The Deafening Silence: In The Closet Of Suicide

Tyler ClementiThe recent tragic death of Tyler Clementi, an 18 year-old Rutgers University Freshman whose sexual tryst was broadcast across the Internet leading to his subsequent suicidal jump off the George Washington Bridge, has gay activists and advocates screaming for a call to action.

This story is not that of one, but of many. Hazing mainly happens in school, especially in college, when many LGBT individuals are discovering their sexual orientation. In the case of Clementi, his unspoken sexuality was exposed twice across the Internet, which begs the question: would this have happened if he were straight?

As someone who has been personally persecuted by people of the likes of Dharun Ravi, I tend to think not. Straight people have sex on TV, in magazines and in movies everyday; gay sexuality is still not mainstream. Whether the actions of the college students were out of curiosity—or just a sophomoric prank or bigotry— remains to be answered.

In high schools and colleges across the nation, kids and young adults are forced into silence for fear of retaliation. Unless a person of authority personally intercepts malicious behavior unto another student, silence follows. It takes the death of someone to instill change in schools or a community, but these changes are often short-lived and wildly ineffective, since teachers and others are often too passive to defend the meek.

Now, another person is dead. A talented and gifted musician died because of torment inflicted over his sexual orientation. If being gay had to be personified from a state of being into an emotional context, it would be love. So, in essence these people were tortured, and in some cases killed, because they found the ability to love. This isn’t a legislative problem; it is one of society as a whole – Blind-eye syndrome.

How many more people need to die before something is done? The Matthew Shepard Law helps, but it doesn’t do enough as a preventative measure.

At my high school in Massachusetts, our Gay-Straight Alliance wrote and enacted an anti-harassment policy to reduce the level of violence and hate speech at the school. This policy was left practically unenforced until the death of Phoebe Prince, which lead to an anti-bullying state law enacted in her honor. This law was written in blood, just like the Shepard law.

Politicians, such as Tom Emmer, the current Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota — a candidate financially supported by major corporations such as Target, Best Buy and 3M — feels that our society does not need bullying laws. In fact, during one of his campaign speeches, he said that if he were elected governor, he would veto the Safe Schools for All bill, a bill that includes protection for students bullied because of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion and disability.

The Facts:

  • 45% of gay males and 20% of lesbians report having experienced verbal harassment and/or physical violence as a result of their sexual orientation during high school.
  • 42% of adolescent lesbians and 34% of adolescent gay males who have suffered physical attack also attempt suicide.
  • 20% of LGB youth report skipping school at least once a month because of feeling unsafe while there.
  • 19% of gay/lesbian youth report suffering physical attacks based on their sexual orientation.


If LGBT Americans had equal rights and were not treated as a minority, heterosexual kids would grow up thinking of them as their fellow humans. Not a subhuman class that should be persecuted, ridiculed, and tortured because they love someone of the same sex. This problem will persist, more people will die, and more laws will be written in their blood until we start changing on a societal level. Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world,” start practicing compassion and lets stop the deaths now!


Life: Rebooted, the Zen of letting go

Ok, ok, I’ve been really bad with blogging as of late, err, as of always. Anyway, I went to Greece (Mykonos) for my birthday, a most unexpected and wonderful trip! But the purpose of writing this isn’t to talk about the trip. While I was there, I was forced to live on minimal internet and disconnect from the world. This caused a great deal of anxiety at first, but I really didn’t have a choice in the matter.

(C) Joshua Plant 2010

Six days were spend doing nothing. NOTHING! I went on several adventures driving around the island because I love memorizing roads and new places (odd, I know…), save for that, I sat at the pool or beach and meditated for six days. When I was in England later that week, it hit me that I had an overwhelmingly strong sense of mental peace and contentment.

Upon returning to the US, it was clear to me that I had to stop everything. I had to relinquish all the bullshit I put myself through and let go of 99% of my projects. However, as soon as I let go of them, I was overwhelmed with a plethora of new ones–the difference being, I am enjoying these and have clearly stated my work/life limits.

Work aside: Without searching, I have been finding all these new blogs on the topic of Zen Buddhism and minimalist living. Then, I happened upon this book: The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life [], it has been really interesting and helpful with clearing out the overabundance of bullshit in my life. Thankfully, when I moved to New York City several years ago, I threw everything I owned out and came with only the bare necessities.

I still own nothing, and have very little attachment to the few things I do own. So, I am at a crossroad as to what I do now… Do I leave New York? Do I stay? How do I move forward? I do not have any answers, but everyday I am trimming my emotional baggage and the attachment to things from my life.

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” – Seneca

Today is a new day. Life: Rebooted

Marketing 2.0: Ad Smarketing

Marketing has come a long way from the days of the ever-so relatable Joe Camel. Gone is Joe, and so too are the cigarette ads, now a new player is in town: Facebook.

Marketing has finally come to the people. Egocentric marketers, whom really have no relation, nor understanding of their target audience, save for a few Nielson test group results, no longer dictate what is successful and what is not.

Now the people, the consumers, and even the Facebook-stalkers hold the key to a successful marketing plan – public opinion finally matters. On the Internet, things are not broadcasted en masse, marketing as a whole has become very demographic-specific. It is now possible to reach a group of unwed, white, 16-19 year old girls in the mid-west with great accuracy.

Today, Neilson released a special report entitled “Advertising Effectiveness: understanding the value of Social Media impressions.” This 12-page report is the result of six months of research consisting of surveys of over 800,000 Facebook users, 125 Facebook advertising campaigns and 70 brand advertisers.

The study concluded that there are two types of impressions in social media marketing (smarketing): paid impressions, and ‘earned’ or ‘organic’ impressions. These impressions are garnered from three sources: Homepage Ads, Homepage Ads with social media context and organic impressions. Of course, my favorite is the organic impression (duh).

What are ‘organic impressions’?

These are impressions that are a direct referral from a consumer; it is word-of-mouth 2.0, if you will (e.g., “Joshua Plant Became a Fan of Twitter”). These impressions have the least reach, but have the most impact.

Organic impressions nearly quadruple a campaign’s effectiveness across the board, when compared to a conventional Homepage Ad. According to Nielsen’s BrandLift research, purchase intent was merely 2% with Homepage Ad exposure, compared to 8% with Homepage Ad exposure with organic impressions. Similarly, ad recall’s numbers jumped from 10% to 30% when organic impressions were added to the mix.

It is evident that the key to effective marketing is to include interactive elements within the ad creative, such as a “become a fan” button or a “follow us on twitter” link, something that engages the consumer and allows them to broadcast their recent ‘fan-hood’ of a particular product or service to their audience (i.e. friends). Generally, this leads to a sudden bombardment of new “fans.” Even the chattiest of chatty Kathys could not spread news of a great thing as fast as residual organic impressions can.

The hardest part is that one cannot buy organic impressions, or force something into the viral market. The only way to do this is by offering a great product, targeted campaigning and brand integrity.

Social advertising is simply the beginning of Smarketing, community building is the next crucial building block in your foundation, but I will touch more on that in a later post.

Twitter Tips & Tricks

Don't be a fail whale!

Know your audience:

Understand that you are creating a brand when using twitter – you are marketing yourself in 140 characters or less. Your tweets should be consistent with your brand or else it will be more difficult to gain followers. So, if your beat is social media, tweet about relevant things in social media, not your breakfast.

Know the key tweeps in your community:

Search for the top people in your community and follow them. If you do not know where to begin, use services such as or to find the most influential tweeps.

Tweet often (3-6 times a day):

But don’t tweet “I’m at the pharmacy” that’s for FourSquare. Tweet about relevant and noteworthy things. If you have nothing to say, read other people’s tweets and retweet it.

EX: “Great twitter tips and tricks by @joshmplant [link]”

Follow back!

Unless you can bring the audience from your already established fame, you need to get yourself out there. Think of it this way, if I am following x, x, and x and they are the top in my community; people will flock to see who they are following and who is following them.

The more people you follow the more you increase your likelihood to be seen. However, a caveat to note is that if you are ‘upside down’ (you follow more people than follow you) be cognizant of the gap. It looks bad if you follow 900 people and only 200 are following you.


If you are following several hundred (or even thousands) of tweeps, create lists to help organize your tweeps. This way you can stay in touch and on top of the conversation without having to weed through a bunch of tweets.

You can regionalize, categorize, alphabetize, or whatever to your lists, it is up to you. But, keep in mind that other people may follow your lists, so try and have some order to them, so you can gain list followers too.

Say thank you!

If people are following you, thank them. Especially thank them if they retweet, @mention or #FollowFriday you.

# FollowFriday (#FF):

Participate in #FF. Every Friday the top trending topic will be #FF, this is because every Friday millions of tweeps recommend their favorite tweeps to their audience. This is a great opportunity to meet new tweeps and see who’s hot!

When you do #FF, make sure you are following the people you are #FFing. How can you recommend them as a great tweep, if you yourself do not follow them?


Find tweeps you like. It is important who you follow, but it is also important to like who you follow. If you are a bleeding-heart liberal, chances are that you are not going to follow Ann Coulter, let’s be real here.

Do not just follow: @ and DM the people you like. Join the conversation with ‘@replies’ and retweets. (NB: you can only DM your followers)

Lurking isn’t going to build your twitter presence. If you go on twitter (or any social networking site) with the expectation that people will find you and that you do not need to interact with your community, you are wrong. Think of it like a small town. No one likes the woman who sits in her living room gazing nosily at the neighbors without saying a word… she’s creepy and so are you.

More twitter tips & tricks soon! Be sure to follow me on twitter (@JoshMPlant) for the latest blog entries, articles and favs!

First App!

Rather than waiting for my book to come in, I eagerly searched the interwebz for something to help me create an app. In my search, I found iPhone Application Programming from Stanford on iTunes.

The meat of the lecture starts about halfway through, the first part is mostly irrelevant introduction junk. On the whole, I found the lecture helpful, and it was a fast and easy way to create a really basic first app. I do, however, have a complaint, the Spring 2009 lecture series does not use SDK 3, so some of the options have been moved. It took me a few tries to figure out how to set the settings that were being used in the lecture. Oddly enough, Evan, lecturer extraordinaire, couldn’t get his code to work… but I did! W00t!

About five minutes ago, I found that they posted a Winter 2010 session, I have not looked at it, yet, but it’s safe to assume they use the newer SDK.

And, do not forget, there is the Developer’s resource center through which you can access the Apple Developer Only section of iTunes providing you with about 30 videos on SDK and development basics.

Let’s see what fun apps tomorrow brings!

And so it begins…

According to a GetJar-commissioned study, the monetary value of the mobile app market boom will reach $17.5 billion by 2012. It is obvious where technology is heading, desktops are a bulky relic of the past; moreover, with the iPad coming out shortly and the ubiquity of multi-touch GUI mobile phones, everything is being made to fit in the palm of your hand.

Sounds like opportunity is calling!

I have had an aversion to learning any additional coding languages since my days in HTML, but that is all about to change. I’ve registered as an Apple Developer, downloaded the iPhone SDK and ordered a book. As it stands now, I feel like Helen Keller in a round room…

Let’s see where this goes, perhaps a miracle will happen.

She’s not GaGa…

Being a lover of all things off-color and “out there,” I was captivated by Lady GaGa from the beginning. GaGa has brought occult musings into the mainstream, wielding abstract imagery and lyrics  as a subliminal social commentary. Now, after the most recent release of her music video ‘Telephone,’ she has blown my mind again!

My friends at the Vigilant Citizen have broken down the video and its symbolism [here].

This article was brought to my attention by a wonderful blogger: ACofMusings