Nicole Lemon: A Profile

Nicole Lemon is a biology-chemistry double major studying at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She’s currently wrapping up her junior year and preparing for a research based internship this summer where she will be working closely with an associate professor of the biomedical department. She plans to go go to medical school post graduation to pursue ambitions to become a neurologist. She would consider herself liberal, and throughout the past few years I’ve watched her grow as an advocate for social justice issues on Facebook and Twitter. I believe the passion and strength of her beliefs causes her to be unable to remain silence on public social platforms.

What influences you to tweet something, or make a Facebook post?

My biggest influence as to why I post on Twitter and Facebook is transparency. This may seem backwards. In using social media you are hiding behind a computer. It isn’t real, some things aren’t clear. But I tweet and post a lot so that I am transparent- so that everyone KNOWS what I am thinking, and everyone knows what i am going through…not necessarily because i need everyone to know but because I am proud of who I am. I like to stand up for what I believe in and I like to be heard. The best way to get the attention of a vast majority these days is through posting on Facebook and tweeting.

What influences you to intervene in an already existing Facebook discussion or Twitter war?

I am influenced to intervene when I agree or disagree strongly. Politics have got me going recently. I also like to comment on things I really like and agree with and stick up for people whom are getting disagreed with. Again, I intervene when I feel like my opinion can contribute and because everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.

Do you believe people are careless with their words online?

I think that when people post dumb things, and don’t expect to be challenged- they deserve to be challenged.

Do you think you are a more established source of knowledge on certain topics via web because of your scientific and well informed background?

Am I a more established source of knowledge? Depends on the topic. I love learning from others just as much as posting on social media. I believe my opinions are important, as everyone’s are,but not always “the right” answer. Sometimes there is no right answer.
On certain topics, such as science topics I do consider myself a more established source at this point in my biochemistry career.

Do you think Facebook is an appropriate forum for people to discuss their beliefs?

I think that Facebook is an appropriate place for beliefs. If you post a belief on Facebook though you should expect to have people disagree with you- its up to the individual if they want to argue or if they simply want to ignore the person who disagrees. Social media is becoming a apart of society, it’s the way society interacts- freedom of religion, for example, should include all public places, including Facebook.

Do you believe Facebook supplies peoples’ ignorance?

Social media has become so huge I think sometimes it hurts us. Relationship problems, job problems, cyber bullying, a lot of things arise from social media. I’m not sure if it’s ignorance.

Writing As A Social Action

I wrote this article last summer after working at a day camp for children. I’ve always been a advocate for women embracing their bodies versus hiding them, and working in a structured organization with children showed me just how much we sexualize young girls’ bodies.

Honestly, I was afraid when I posted this article, because so many anecdotes had to do with my job. My co-workers didn’t love me (or so it felt) and I was fearful of one of them seeing it on Facebook and exploiting me. But the article reached everybody I wanted, and more. This is the excerpt I posted with it:

Words I have been waiting to say for a long time. For any girl who has been told to “cover up”. For any girl who’s violated the dress code. For any girl who wants to believe in the power of your body: Please read.

I couldn’t have garnered a better reaction on this post. Reactions included:

217 social shares and 1,619 views

“Well done”

“This is amazing”

“Amazing *tag*, thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts.”

Another beautifully written article by my friend Ellie Delany! Everybody please remember that society and the “social norms” that put us down only change if we do. This article is geared towards women, but no matter what gender you identify with, or don’t identify with, embrace yourself and others for all that you/they are and everything you/they want and hope to be. As members of a society that perpetuates judgement and ridicule over love and acceptance–always remember to do the loving thing!!”

“everyone needs to read this” x 2

“perfect exactly thank you”

What I’ve included in bold was my favorite reaction. This is the reason why I write Odyssey articles, despite some stigma of it being a “listicle/click-bait” platform. I write because I want to start conversation. Receiving positive feedback feels great and is rewarding, but there’s a purpose behind the feedback. I want people to embrace these ideals more, and if everybody’s sharing them, maybe somebody on the opposing side will read and understand my perspective.

I wish this article would have reached more males, and if it did, I wish they would have engaged with it a bit more. It’s important for females to realize the power of our bodies, but I would have appreciated feedback and support or mere opinions from the male population.

Overall, I think I hit my objective of reaching an audience. This is something I’ve always felt passionate about, and it’s important to me. I think there are so many misunderstandings and flawed societal implications we impose on women’s bodies. My article was one way I can combat and try to change these things.

Affordances and Public Shaming on the Internet

When looking for connections or contrasts between Danah Boyd’s “It’s Complicated” and Ronson’s “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”, I found that the affordances of technology, specifically social media, Boyd describes enables the public internet shaming Ronson talks about. Boyd discusses four aspects of these affordances, which are “persistence: the durability of online expressions and content, visibility: the potential audience who can bear witness, spreadability,: the ease with which content can be shared and searchability: the ability to find content.” (Boyd 11).

These four contributing factors of affordance make it possible for us to shame one another on a larger public scale than ever before. Due to the durability of online expressions and content, people find trouble retracting statements they mistakenly make, because even when their presence is deleted, the tweet or post lives on. The visibility aspect of affordances is immense; millions of people have access to your personal social media platform with just a click. I also want to pause and raise the question: what does this mean for us as people? I can convey ideas about myself and life easily through social media, and none of them are reflections of my truest self. Can we access depictions of one another so easily that we’re numb to the actual human behind the screen? Completely.

The spreadability social media holds is immense, the websites we actively go on make it incredibly easy for us to “retweet” “share” and “like” things. So when one person finds another’s actions indisputable, and expresses so through social media, it is extremely easy for others to hop on without fully forming their own opinions. This is what enables such public shaming to take place.

All of these affordances contribute to the power of social media, but they not only enable public shaming, but through “liking” and “retweeting”, they almost encourage it.

It’s difficult to pick a Ronson quote that completely conveys the power of the internet, and in turn the ability it gives us to shame one another. The best way to connect to Boyd’s idea of affordances is when Ronson says, “On the Internet we have power in situations where we would otherwise be powerless.” (Ronson 123). It’s anxiety-inducing to think we hold access to the world in the palm of our hand, and I don’t find that to be an exaggeration. The public shaming Ronson describes in his book is the perfect depiction of it. You screw up once, and people will hold it against you forever. But technology is getting in the way of our basic human sympathies. I am not for racist remarks, or plagiarism, but I know people make mistakes and misjudgments. It’s how we grow and understand what’s acceptable and what’s not. Online bullying is a huge thing teenagers face today. It’s difficult to see adults participate just as easily, just because they can. 

Affordances & Constraints

There are affordances and constraints in both videos and text – what’s interesting is to examine how these things influence our perception as an audience. For example, in a video, you hear somebody’s voice and tone which affects the way you perceive the content they’re transferring. In a text, more is left to the imagination. There is no concrete visual image in front of them, so they must develop pictures in their mind based off the words provided. I wouldn’t consider either of them affordances or constraints, but they do offer unique differences to an audience.

One affordance a video has over text is the physicality of a visual image. It’s easier to show somebody how to do something through a video than a text. Instructions through text can be unclear and misleading. The visual aspect of a video, like in Alex’s video How To Build A Cootie Catcher, helps an audience to visually and physically understand what they need to do to accomplish something. On the contrast, I find learning how to do something via text encourages engagement with oneself. You may learn and develop skills more when learning how to do things through text, than you would just mimicking somebody else. This ability may be considered a video’s constraint.

Another affordance video offers is the ability to seamlessly switch and gain differing perspectives. In Allie’s video, What Motives You?, she utilizes voice overs from different people to represent different opinions and perspectives. In a text, it’s difficult to transition perspectives or voices so effortlessly. The audience automatically registers the sounds as a different person speaking, whereas in a text you are usually limited to one choice of point of view. I find it easier to convey things through video. In a text, you have to build a formulation of words that overall flows and makes sense to the reader. There is less control on what the reader sees/imagines.

I’ve found that utilizing text in videos is almost more effective than text alone. When you include text in a video, like Amanda did in her Subtweeting video, the audience is automatically focused on those words and what they mean. This helps the reader judge and establish what information is important. In a text, it’s sometimes hard to establish the focus of the piece and what’s mainly important. In a way, this is an affordance because the creator can demand and control an audience’s attention more. Also, a video has the advantage of mixing text and video, while a text is constrained to text.

Overall, I find there are different abilities of text and video. I find text encourages engagement with yourself, while video encourages and enables engagement with others. In today’s society, I believe the video wins. People don’t want to read. They want to see, be entertained, and register information quickly.

What did we do before cell phones?

The introduction of Boyd’s book interested me because she wrote about our usage of cell phones, which is a theme I’ve thought a lot about since beginning this class. The computer is a huge medium for us, but I think the relevance of cell phones has caused people to be more wired than ever. The cell phone offers a type of affordance that makes it easily usable on the go wherever you are. Unlike a computer, a cell phone is small and can fit in your pocket or purse – so it’s never too far. Boyd says that “over 80 percent of high school students had cell phones in 2010” and I believe it. Our generation started young, and it’s brought me to the question: what did we do before cell phones?

There are two specific instances I’ve identified throughout the last two weeks of this course, and I would love for other answers. How did we wake up in the morning before our cell phone alarm? Did our parents wake us up? How many people actually owned an alarm clock? And how many have one today? I genuinely cannot remember a time when I didn’t wake up to the convenience of my cell phone alarm, which I can swiftly and quickly shut off with one grasp. Another thing I’ve been thinking about is directions. How did we know how to get anywhere before cell phones offered maps and step by step directions? I vaguely remember my parents printing pages off of Google maps, but what about when you were going somewhere nearby you were just unsure of? I drove up to Penn State this weekend, where I’ve never been, and my phone took me through the entire three and a half hour journey. I literally have no idea what I would have done without it.

It’s interesting to see how the usage of cell phones has evolved since we were younger. My first 2-3 phones were flip phones, the touch screen not even invented yet (or so I remember). Check out this video where teenagers in 2017 use flip phones for the first time if you want to feel old.

Boyd talks about how our youth creates spaces through social media where they can go and interact without physically transporting anywhere. I found this point interesting because as I thought about it, I realized something startling: I could know (or think I know) so much about a person’s life without ever meeting them. I could know what they look like, what their habits are, their humor, who their family and friends are, where they go to school and what they do, the list goes on. The internet allows teens to know people they don’t actually know. I can see how this poses as danger, but I’m also interested in learning about the danger of unrealistic self expectations and false images it has on teenagers.


Plugged in

A concept I’ve been thinking more about is the way we’re “plugged in” to the Net and media as human beings. We’ve developed a mentality that’s dependent on being fed information every hour through a variety of devices. We feel the need to stay current, in the know, refreshing our feeds and timelines to find something new to stimulate and distract ourselves. Not only is this a mental tick and habit, but we learn through Carr that this media usage may be physically and chemically altering our brains and the way we develop thoughts as well.

“Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and the director of its Memory and Aging Center, has been studying the physiological and neurological effects of the use of digital media, and what he’s discovered backs up Merzenich’s belief that the Net causes extensive brain changes. The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains. The daily usage of computers, smartphones, search engines, and other such tools stimulates brain cell alteration and neurotransmitter release, gradually strengthening new neural pathways in our brains while weakening old ones.” (120)

If what Carr is suggesting is true, it’s a true reflection of the way the Net has taken over our brains. But how can we make a direct correlation between the usage of screens and the effect on neural pathways in our brain? I’m unsure of the research which has been done, and although it sounds convincing, it’s also good to raise questions. I think Carr extends his theory at this particular part of the book through providing the physical effects and aspects the media has on us. He illustrates the cycle the Net has on our brains; the more we feed it, the more we need it.

A free photo I found through Google images encompasses many of Carr’s points in the book, but especially depicts the way we are plugged in at all times.

I found the image above and immediately resonated again with the idea of being “plugged in”. This image illustrates a literal depiction of the way we’re mentally connected to the Net and technology at all times, and even goes a step further to suggest the technology is even powering the brain – is that an indication of what’s to come? We become so adapted to the internet, our abilities deteriorate to the point that they are useless? Or will technology become so advanced, we won’t need any literary abilities?