Clarissa Gordon: sharing her voice from Rutgers University

Clarissa Gordon is a sophomore Journalism major and Creative writing minor at Rutgers University. A good friend of mine, she was born and raised in New York City and we have always shared a passion for reading and writing. She currently writes for the Daily Targum, a student-written and student-managed newspaper and for Trim magazine, the fashion magazine on campus. Whether her articles take a journalistic approach or they include a version of herself I have always admired her writing. I chose to her to do my digital writer profile on because I hoped to learn about how she implements her voice and grows as a writer despite limitations and the influences and inspirations behind her work.

I began our conversation by asking Clarissa how she got involved in writing outside of the classroom

Clarissa: I took a basic writing for journalism and media class my first semester of sophomore year and realized I had a knack for reporting, especially with the current political climate and my overall interest in current events so I decided to pop into the Targum offices. It only took me two articles before they offered me a position as a correspondent and on the side I write for Trim.

Clarissa, typical to most New Yorkers, has always had a special interest in current events that deal with entertainment and pop culture. So even on a large campus like Rutgers she connects her interests by writing articles on a campus Spring Drag Show and Rutgers FORM (Fashion Organization of Retail and Marketing) fashion show showcases.

What version of yourself are you trying to portray online through your articles?

 Clarissa: Well first things first as a journalist I’m never to insert my opinions into my articles – maybe if I’m writing a review on an art exhibition or a fashion show, but even then, opinion is scarce. Trim is where I’m allowed to really be creative and use my voice: I mostly write for the love and lust column, and as someone who considers themselves a sex positive feminist, I try to empower my female readers, which I think is especially important on a college campus where young women might struggle finding or accepting themselves.

I admire Clarissa as a writer because I have always known her as a strongly opinionated person and she uses her voice to advocate issues that are important to shed light on.

What are some things you keep in mind when writing something new?

Clarissa: I mostly just try to showcase clear and concise writing skills while at the same time making sure my article is interesting and attention-grabbing.

And lastly I asked, what inspires/influences you as a writer?

 Clarissa: Ever since I can remember I’ve always liked to write – I used to sit down in front of my first laptop and jot down chapters of novels in like elementary school…so that passion has always kind of been there. More recently, I think I was definitely inspired by Lena Dunham and how she’s a great writer on so many levels – she can be a journalist and a story teller when she wants to be, but she’s also great at writing jokes and films and tv shows and basically anything she sets her mind to. I’m also inspired by young women I know personally who are writing for Vogue and the New Yorker. Their salaries aren’t the best, but when you’re a writer, money isn’t really ever the end goal.

 

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Bullying and Shaming

Storytelling is a way of communicating a point but while providing resources to support the claims. Both danah boyd and Jon Ronson, convey their ideas surrounding the digital era using this method.

Through storytelling, Ronson and boyd discuss various “side effects” of social world through topics like bullying and shaming. Through their interviews with teens and members of their communities, they showed us as readers various elements that can be exposed through the various forms that the internet provides.

In boyd’s chapter on bullying, she discusses how it has become so easy for teens to express their feelings about others. Her definitions of bullying and drama both lead me to further think of the idea in relation to shaming. One definition of drama was, “performative, interpersonal conflict that takes place in front of an active, engaged audience, often on social media” (boyd 138). How is this different than Ronson’s shaming?

In Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, after an article was published regarding his mistakes, Jonah Lehrer was forced to make a public apology in which live tweets were displayed behind him. Jonah made a mistake and Michael Moynihan was able to monopolize on it. Michael wrote the article that exposed these mistakes, despite his reservations. Boyd talks about this issue of reservations through her experiences with Trevor and Matthew. She writes, “… they saw creating such incidences to be a source of entertainment, even when someone got hurt in the process” (boyd 129). So these topics of bullying and shaming may not be as different as the authors portray.

Michael, Trevor and Matthew were all using someone else’s mistake or lives to create their own forms of entertainment. Michael in writing about Jonah’s mistake and Trevor and Matthew pranking each other for social media to react to. Ronson also discusses how even despite hurting someone else, they may believe they are “doing something good” (104). He uses this to explain a guard’s actions in the Stanford Prison Experiment. While this “guard” acted violently towards “inmates”, he stated, “… I thought I was doing something good at the time” (Ronson 104). In these men’s actions, they were joking around with each other or just trying to make a living. And in the guards situation, he believed he was providing the desired results of the study.

Whether or not shaming and bullying are connected, both Ronson and boyd provide similar arguments supporting the idea that they are both a source of entertainment; even if someone gets hurt in the process.