Final Admirations

Well, it’s finally here. The last week of English 397. I now know so much more about writing in the digital age than I did when the class first started. After reading the multiple books about social media and how it affects us, I have a stronger positive opinion on technology and its uses. I feel confident that I will be able to use technology and social media in a professional and efficient way in the future.

Throughout the semester, I have had the pleasure of reading so many wonderful pieces of work. I was both impressed and inspired by each of my classmates. For almost every assignment, I envied and admired the prose of Will’s works. Although I was not a fan of Carr and his negative take on technology and its effects on us, Will’s emotions about the disconnect that is created because of technology and his previous knowledge of the brain greatly convinced me to fear the reliance I have on my phone. Will then shares with the readers a quote from Carr: “outsource memory, and culture withers”. This quote is powerful on its own, but Will’s interpretation of Carr’s words help the reader better understand the logic behind Carr’s fears.

“The understanding is that when we avoid the grandeur of the real world and infuse ourselves with the online world, we begin to lose something vital to who we are.”

-Will Kebbe

Unlike Carr, Will doesn’t leave us hanging with no suggestions to better ourselves. He says that “engaging in socially active conversations and events, making a point to seek them out in the future, and repeating might blur the necessity we have to our phones.” I’m not sure if he uses a thesaurus when choosing these eloquent words or if he is just a syntax prodigy, but either way, I hope to eventually gain the skills to rise to his level of prose.

In the beginning of the semester, it would have been easier for me to point out a piece that has done something on-screen that you cannot do on page. However, as I have seen with the multiple remediation pieces, writers have taken pieces from video to page and vice versa in very creative and interesting ways.

Nicole’s remediation piece is a great example of something you can do on-screen but may be hard to do on page. In her freshmen E110, she wrote a research paper on how women are portrayed in literature. In her piece she includes a written summary of the results she received after constructing an online survey.

“The three most common roles people have responded to have read woman occupying are mothers (74%), housewives (57%), and sex objects (45%).”

To remediate this information, she took the results and created an infographic. Although this same infographic could be drawn on a piece of paper, it would take much more time to create this on paper and add the multiple pictures and color that is shown on-screen. When I first saw this piece, I completely surpassed the paragraph summarizing her results. My eye was immediately drawn toward the graphs and the familiar images of characters and princesses. By creating an infographic for research projects such as this, it makes the reader work harder to understand the information given, but in a more creative and fun way. If you just wrote out the results in a large paragraph, just as Nicole provides for us in her piece, the reader may lose interest or may not comprehend the extent of the differences or impacts between variables.

Teach Me to Be You: Part Two

I have always admired my friend Lucy and the skillful way she constantly receives multiple likes and retweets. During my interview with her last week, she gave me some advice when creating a tweet of my own. I decided to go through some of her tweets and analyze them based on the advice she gave me.

  1. Make sure it’s your authentic voice. That can be hard to find on social media because sometimes we just post what we think people will want to hear.
  2. Don’t tweet every thought that pops into your head. Use your filter.
  3. Be conscious of how you use capitalization, abbreviation, and word choice.
  4. Choose which audience you are trying to speak to: immediate audience (friends) or random people who might come across your tweet

 

 

Teach Me to Be You

I decided to interview my close friend, Lucy Vavala. I have always admired her Twitter Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 11.59.32 PM.pngand the many numbers of retweets and likes she gets on everything she posts. Lucy is a junior, Women and Gender Studies major. She describes her Twitter brand as mostly light hearted, although she talks a lot about politics and pop culture. To quote her exactly: “It’s kind of a mess, but it all works together”.  Below is the interview I had with her.

Do you feel you reach people on Twitter you wouldn’t connect with otherwise?

Yes. Definitely. I think I started on Twitter following my friends, a small network. But once I started following celebrities, blogs, and writers I connected with other people who followed these accounts as well. Then once I made my Twitter public, more people began to take notice to my tweets and my friends would retweet it to their friends.

Do you tweet about controversial issues only when an issue is trending or will you just tweet about issues that you are passionate about?

Sometimes the things that are trending are the things I’m really passionate about. Such as the Woman’s March. On Twitter I comment on a lot of current events, but not because everyone else is. I comment because I think it is an important issue that needs to be discussed.

Do you think there is a difference between the voice you use on Twitter and the voice you use in face-to-face interactions?

No. Anything I tweet I make sure sounds like something I would naturally say. If you post something that is attached to your name and your personal brand, but isn’t authentic, why post it?

What tweet are you most proud of? And why?

“My arch nemesis from swim team when I was little is going to the Olympics and I am eating stale triscuits on my couch in complete darkness”

This is horrible to say but I’m most proud of this one because it got the most retweets. I mean, I’m proud of other tweets but this one has to do with social validation.

Have you ever reread a tweet and thought it was too offensive to post?

Yes, there have been times where I reread a tweet of mine and thought “oh wow this could easily be misconstrued”. But even if I am tweeting something political I will still post it. I don’t care if my opinion differs from someone else’s, but if I assume someone will read my tweet and think I’m a bad person then I rethink it.

Do you ever use Twitter as an outlet when struggling in college?

At times, I have had my fair share of vague tweets. But I never really used Twitter as an online diary, because it is so public. I use Twitter as an outlet for my thoughts and opinions, not my feelings.

Do you have any advice or strategies you use when it comes to tweeting?

  1. Make sure it’s your authentic voice. That can be hard to find on social media because sometimes we just post what we think people will want to hear.
  2. Don’t tweet every thought that pops into your head. Use your filter.
  3. Be conscious of how you use capitalization, abbreviation, and word choice.
  4. Choose which audience you are trying to speak to: immediate audience (friends) or random people who might come across your tweet

I used the strategies Lucy gave me and created a tweet I thought would mirror her voice. Surprisingly, it worked! I got 5 likes (which is a lot for me).

Family Means: No One Gets Left Behind

I have been involved with theater most of my life. I started when I was in 5th grade and each year have done a number of different shows. Many of my performances took place in the same small town, community theaters. When I started as a freshman in high school, I started performing at Milburn Stone Theater at Cecil County College. The people there were absolutely amazing. They all treated me with such kindness and welcomed me with open arms. I stopped doing shows there after about three years as I started getting ready for my transition into college. Although I was not performing there anymore I continued to support my friends and attend many of the shows each year. Even with my absence, the volunteers and directors knew still knew me by name and greeted me as if I never left. The people there became another extension of my family. Recently, one of our family members has been taken advantage of.

Bambi Johnson, who was once the choreographer, but now artistic director, was fired from the theater. Bambi was in the middle of choreographing a show, Mary Poppins, when her dismissal was executed. The other directors told the cast of her departure, acting with no remorse or care that she was gone. The directors also gave no explanation to the cast as to the reasoning behind her leave. Even after constant efforts to discover why she was asked to leave, the directors still gave no comment to the matter. Since then, many volunteers and actors of the theatre have come together to support Bambi and try to get her reinstated. People have begun posting their favorite memories with Bambi, using the hashtag #ThanksBambi. This has grabbed so much attention from the outside community that many blogs and journalists have written articles about the whole debacle.

For my social action, I decided to also add to this conversation. Below is the status that I recently posted on Facebook.

“It has been a few years since I have performed on the Milburn Stone Theatre stage, but I have continued to attend the various shows every year in support of my friends. Recently, I found out about the dismissal of Bambi Johnson and am heart-broken. I remember the first show I did at Milburn: The Sound of Music. I can still recall the many wonderful dance rehearsals spent with the always positive Bambi. Her smile and energy made me excited to learn every night. Now, because of her dismissal, many of my fellow friends are no longer planning to support the local theater. I hate to see a place that used to give me such wonderful memories come crumbling down. I hope the school reconsiders their decision. Bambi is one of the sweetest and most hard-working person I’ve ever met. I am so grateful to be able to say that I have worked with her. I will always support her. #ThanksBambi #IstandforBambi #IfightforBambi”  

It has been said that Bambi is not commenting on any of these posts that tag her, however, I am curious whether she has been reading them. My goal behind this post wasn’t to take a different, more obscure position on an issue, nor was I hoping to stir the pot with other theater people and patrons. I just wanted to add to the conversation how important I thought Bambi was and how my own experiences reflect that. I was disappointed when I didn’t receive any comments from my old Milburn theater friends. I received only about 22 likes on my status and one share of my post from my random aunt. It seemed that hardly anyone saw it or cared to look at it.

The purpose of the hashtag is to hopefully grab the attention of the directors so that they see how many people Bambi impacts and how her dismissal will result in a rapid decline of volunteers and actors for future shows. As of right now, the directors have still yet to make a comment on the situation and Bambi’s firing. They seem to be very silent. I don’t know if these hashtags will make a huge difference when it comes to the reinstating of Bambi’s position, but I hope that at least the trustees of the school will begin to reconsider their actions.

Because of my contribution to the #ThanksBambi hashtag, I may be banned from the theater when it comes to auditioning and being in shows in the future. It was rumored that anyone who used this hashtag was being put on a blacklist. I don’t know whether this is true or not. However, after the lack of responses I recieved from my post, I don’t really know how meaningful my contribution was to the situation anyway. Other people who have still been heavily involved at the theater probably gained more reaction from their posts.

I hate to see a theater I once loved, be destroyed. I am a huge advocate for the arts and to see so many people confess that they would no longer audition or volunteer breaks my heart. But like I said before, each theater and show is like a family. And when you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.

Ronson for the Gold

I find it very ironic that as we are currently talking about social media and public shaming, two of the biggest shaming of the year so far have occurred. Different from Ronson’s examples of public shaming, these shamings are against companies not individual people. If any of you keep up with the latest trends on Twitter, you might have  seen the constant criticisms about Pepsi’s new commercial starring Kendall Jenner, along with the most recent United Airways incident. Both of these subjects have received massive amounts of shaming from Twitter users. Just as Ronson talks about the impact Twitter users have on the lives of those being shamed, today’s users have had large impacts on the individual companies. Not only are these companies being publicly shamed on social media, but Twitter users have decided to take it a step farther and actually boycott the companies. Both of which have already seen a drop in stocks because of the constant backlash from people. Both companies tried one of the approaches Ronson discussed in his book about how to survive public shaming: not being ashamed. Pepsi and United Airways defended themselves against the attackers by standing their ground about their actions. Unfortunately, that did not go over well with users. Pepsi was forced to take down the commercial and United Airways now has a possible lawsuit against them.

In Ronson’s book, he talks about many other examples of public shaming that he has witnessed and come to discover. From Justine Sacco to Max Mosley, Ronson takes us through the details of each situation and then talks with victims and attackers to see how the incident has affected them. Although at times Ronson does seem to take a comparable stance with Carr about technology, I really don’t feel that Ronson’s book is all that similar to the other two we have read. Yes, Ronson mostly talks about public shaming using technology, but his main concern in the book isn’t technology. His main concern is public shaming. Technology just happens to be a part of that in modern-day. Carr and Boyd however write specifically about the effects of using technology. They analyze research data and make a conclusion based on what they have found. Ronson’s stance on technology isn’t as clear. It seems throughout the book that at times, he stands on the side of the attackers, but once he talks with the victims and sees how easily a public shaming incident can ruin a person’s life, he grows more sympathy for them.

Boyd and Ronson do overlap some of the same ideas however. Boyd also interviews many teens to find out exactly how they feel about technology and their experiences while using it. I think that after talking with those people, Boyd came to a more positive conclusion about technology. She doesn’t blame technology for the evils that have occurred in society. Bullying. Shaming. They have all already been in our lives but now technology just amplifies them. Ronson also touches on this point. He discussed how public shaming and humiliation started back in colonial times. But, even though it was eventually outlawed, shaming in everyday situations continues to happen. Ronson interviewed many of the attackers and asked them if they felt any guilt when ruining that person’s life. Some were very remorseful about it when seeing the after effects, however others felt that it was “their duty” to call out the evil before them. (Carr would argue that people feel less empathy and sympathy for the victims they attacked because of their immense usage of technology.) Ronson makes the point that each of the attackers made a choice as to whether they wanted to shame that person or not. Whether they thought they were “doing something good” or not, they each made the choice. Technology never came into play when making their decision. Technology just amplified that decision so that millions of people across the world could now take part in the shaming as well (another choose that users have).

Overall, I think I preferred Ronson’s book out of the three. He didn’t take a scientific stand point about the issue he discussed. His journalistic skill allowed him to tell a story while also adding his own opinion after each story. Because of this I didn’t feel as though he was forcing me to feel a certain way about technology and public shaming. He just gave me the information I needed to come to my own conclusion.

Video vs. Text

I don’t know about anyone else, but when we were first assigned to the assignment for Concept in 60, I was freaking out. I use my phone and computer all the time, but I had no idea how to create a video from scratch. I started out by brainstorming possible concepts to explore and what exactly I would need to film. It was exhausting. My creative juices were definitely dry. After filming and editing the video for 2 hours, it amazed me how much work I had put into only 60 seconds. Which lead me to ask to myself whether just writing about the concept would have been easier…

So what are the accordances and limitations of text and video?

Well for one, time. I’m not just talking about the time it takes you to write something compared to videoing it, I’m talking about how much context you can introduce with each medium. If you are planning to make a video, you have to make it long enough to get the information you want said, but short enough that it doesn’t bore your audience. With our specific assignment of only 60 seconds, I found it incredibly difficult to say everything I wanted to say. With written text, there is really no limit to how long your piece could be. In today’s digital age, many of us can express how we feel in only 140 characters. In comparison, your audience would still be invested in the piece even if it was longer than 2-3 pages.

Reading can sometimes be straining to the brain. It requires an “inner voice” that can distract us from the actual information. With video, the experience is more passive. It takes a lot less energy and effort on behalf of the person watching. In Ashley’s video of Art, I didn’t have to do any thinking. All I had to do was listen to her voice and I received everything she was saying. And her beautiful drawing time-lapse made me feel relaxed and at ease, allowing me to fully immerse what she was saying in the background.

Words and written text greatly allow the writer to describe in detail the specifics of a place, person, or feeling. The reader has the ability to imagine these things without the use of picture or sound. Text gives the reader more freedom to interpret what an author writes. However, in retrospect, the tone of an author’s text can sometimes be misconstrued. With video, this issue does not happen. Jame’s video, How to Properly Watch a Movie at Home,  could easily be written out as a “how to” article. However, the steps he describes would be taken in a more serious tone if they were just written. The video allows the audience to observe the humorous actions and body language of James, which lead them to receive the comedic tone of the piece.

Lastly, video gives the author more creative opportunities to express themselves. Through music, pictures, and video the writer can use multiple effects to engage the audience. In Will’s video, without the use of music, filters, and video I’m not quite sure how his story would be translated. It would be very difficult to describe his emotions and actions through text. Through these multiple effects, video content allows you to show viewers more dimensions of the same content. An example of this is shown in Mackenzie’s video, What is an Ra?. Not only did she vocally describe her role as an RA, but she used pictures and an interview with a student to explain who she is and what she does. Because of her pictures, viewers were more likely to connect with her personally and the topic she discussed. With only written text, readers may have a harder time relating to her.

Today, video is the fastest form of communicating topics and issues with people. They can be very useful compared to written text. However, I think the more effective use of each of these mediums depends on the situation and the environment they are being used in.