Making My Voice Heard

I have always been very invested in the issue of sexual assault. When the video came out of Donald Trump talking about assaulting women and condoning such horrific actions, I was disgusted. I was never one to put my political beliefs online since I have friends and family members who think differently, but this was a bipartisan issue. Someone who views sexual assault as a joke is not someone I want to be associated with let alone have as my president.  Because of my strong feelings about the topic, I decided to take to Facebook and post how I was feeling:

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I was nervous posting such a strongly opinionated post on social media, but having so many people like it made me feel validated and relieved. 47 people ended up liking my post on Facebook. Some of those people were close friends and family, and some I have never talked to before. I was glad that my post reached people and resonated with some enough for them to like it. The purpose of my post was to bring awareness to a huge issue facing us currently. I also wanted to make my voice heard and make it clear that no one should get away with this behavior. I think that I managed to accomplish my personal goals with this post. Being on social media that day I saw a lot of other people posting similar things. The sad reality I and many others were faced with was that social media posts weren’t enough. I knew a lot of people who were sickened by Donald Trump’s comments but didn’t vote. It was a huge wake-up call for me, and I’m sure a lot of other people, that someone who has sexually assaulted women and condones such acts could be the president. After that experience, I realized that I shouldn’t be afraid of having a voice and standing up for what I believe in because otherwise, nothing will change. You can’t complain about the way things are if you aren’t willing to put in the effort and make a difference.

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Warning! This Post Will Be Public! Will You Proceed?

Reddit is like the front page of the internet in a sense. The high volume of user traffic and user created/posted content means that I can see a pretty good picture of what people are discussing online. I can get links to news, entertainment, books, movies… and cute videos of cats!

I have been using reddit for a while: but not as a poster/contributor. I’ve never been one to put my ideas or myself ‘out there’, I’m not constantly updating my media feeds, or taking pictures of my food, or even using social media publicly at all. Facebook is useful to message and join organizational groups, but I’ve not really felt the social media ‘itch’ that seems to have grabbed most of the networked world.

I made a reddit account for this post. Instantly the lens that I am viewing the comments and content before me shifts dramatically. With the new potential ability to reply to user comments, I find myself reading much more carefully, and I feel people’s comments holding a heavier weight than before. Feeling that open channel of dialogue; feeling the potential for discussion heightened my attention and my participation. They wrote all of this out so well and people approved of them and I can do the same? Incredible!

A large part of why I refrained from joining internet posting sites like reddit: it honestly felt like it would be a fruitless endeavor. Sure, I’m online while I’m getting breakfast in the morning, but I’m not really there to interact or attempt to impact a gigantic conversation. It feels honestly impossible to have any sort of power or steering on reddit.  Some of the comments were one word responses to the post. Some were making jokes about other topics. A few comments were talking about some other post entirely.

My comment was not uprooted or touched: maybe someone read it, maybe they didn’t. Here is the comments section of the post, Ele4te is the account name so if you search that you can find the post in context.

Here is the text of my comment:

At what point did Fox leadership decide, “Maybe this isn’t the best PR for us”. They certainly took their time to make this decision. “Only 30 have come forward” “Keep him on this’ll all blow over” “31 now, sir” “Get him out of here! We can’t sustain this image!”

Ultimately this has made me realize that people feel empowered and pay closer attention to issues that they are able to discuss online. The need to give a public, online forum seems crucial for any business. Without online discussion it seems you’re simply at a disadvantage. Communication is a resource, and being able to post, comment, share, like, up-vote, and participate in the online dialogue may not always be impactful: but, it certainly is valuable. Why else would people do it?

 

Class, Wed, 4/19

Fastwrite: Last thoughts: How have social media changed the ways we interact with one another (or not)?

Fenton and Lee

  • Chapter 7, Building a Community: In what ways do you find the advice F&L offer about blogging on pp. 88–90 useful? In what ways might it be constrictive?
  • Interview tips, pp. 16-17: For use in your profile of a digital writer (due Thurs, 4/27).

Writing: Profile of a Digital Writer

To Do

  1. Thurs, 4/20, 10:00 am: Post a link to and reflection on your Writing as a Social Action to this site. Please identify four or five posts that particularly interest you, and comment on them.
  2. Fri, 4/21, class: We’ll discuss the Writing as Social Action posts.
  3. Mon, 4/24, class: Identify the digital writer you want to profile and set up a time to talk with them.

Rohnson and Carr: Maybe Not So Different After All

When comparing Jon Rohnson’s perspective on digital culture in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to Nicholas Carr’s in The Shadows, it is evident that they have very different stances on the topic of social media. It is clearly to any user of social media that it can be dangerous, we just have to make sure users are educated enough to avoid the mistakes that can be easily made. Carr has an overall negative standpoint on social media, while Johnson is more realistic on the topic. Johnson believes that as long as users understand the effects of social media and the proper etiquette of using it, then there should not be any major issues.

One woman in particular was unaware of proper social media etiquette, and allowed one series of tweets give her a horrible reputation not only on twitter, but in her job field and in society in general. In December of 2013, Justine Sacco made the mistake of tweeting about her travels in a distasteful, ignorant manner that gave her possibly the worst reputation on social media at the time. After receiving no responses to her online actions in the beginning, she assumed people did not think much of her tweets. By the time her next flight landed, she quickly learned that was incorrect. She checked her phone to see a message from an old friend reading “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening” (Rohnson 67). Without even thinking twice about what she was tweeting within each of the 140 character tweets, Sacco fell into the category of being publicly shamed, for the entire world of social media to see. She did not truly have bad intentions, but this just proves that things can be misinterpreted once they are posted online and it is definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Although Johnson does not have as negative of a viewpoint on digital culture as Carr does, his story about Sacco is definitely an example of social media gone wrong. Carr is right in situations like these; one may not know the negative impacts of social media and could potentially ruin an aspect of his or her life with it. Carr continues to explain how technology is impacting our brains, not necessarily in a positive manner. “What’s been harder to discern is the influence of technologies, particularly intellectual technologies, on the functioning of people’s brains (Carr 48). People commonly assume that it is more acceptable to say things on social media than in person since it is not said directly to a person’s face. In Johnson’s view of needing to be educated on how to properly conduct social media, he and Carr are most definitely on the same page in regards to Sacco, since she let the internet take over her actions.

Don’t Point Fingers Regardless of Your Intentions

Ronson was onto something when he analyzed the Stanford Prison Experiment and interviewed the people involved. He thought he had debunked this widely known experiment but instead, his findings were still incredibly applicable to the observations he makes on social media and the viewpoints danah boyd shares in her book It’s Complicated. Specifically, they both discuss social media as an immensely powerful tool that can be used for good or bad but at the end of the day it is the person behind the screen who is at fault for their actions online.

Boyd examines the presence of bullying amongst teens on social media and Ronson examines the modern publicity of shaming. Regardless, both agree that about root of any good or bad and boyd explains herself when she says: ““People choose what to spread online, but the technologies that they use to do so are created to increase the visibility of content that will attract the most attention” (Boyd 146). Social media users decide what they post, whether it may be an insensitive tweet about AIDS or an attack in response to that. Nevertheless, this content is more public than ever because things like retweets, shares, likes and reposts exist. Just over a decade ago, this wasn’t the case; the only people who had a voice were people in the public eye but now “The silenced were getting a voice. It was like the democratization of justice.” However, some people may not know what to do with this newfound power or how to use it for good.

I think this goes back to Ronson’s discovery: study participant, Dave Eshelman, who played the role as a guard and seemed to have become irrationally violent admitted that everything he did was on purpose because he thought he was doing something good at the time. This directly relates to boyd’s position “The dynamics of drama and attention don’t unfold because of social media, even if teens can use technology for these purposes” (Boyd 147). Twitter is not to blame for the absurd tweets sent to Sacco about deserving to get fired and raped. Twitter users thought they were doing something good by addressing an inappropriate tweet but although their intentions may have been honest they were just adding to the cycle of violence.

I don’t know if this stems from my optimistic nature, but I genuinely feel that the vast majority of people are not evil to the core. Shamings happen because in a crowd every sentiment and act is contagious and teens bully because they are so easily influenced by their peers. Ronson observes the powerful phenomena of public shaming on social media and boyd picks apart the roles of social media and of its users. I feel that they too would agree that everyone has flaws but it is much easier to pick at someone else’s and forget your own.

Not So Different After All

Ronson describes in his book, So You’ve Been Publically Shamed, the downfalls of social media. Public shaming has seen a rise in recent times. In my opinion, Ronson takes the stance that social media has its positives but, at the same time, extreme negatives. Carr also views social media in a negative light in his book, The Shallows.  Ronson and Carr have many opposing ideas, but do show similarities in the fact that they both recognize the downfalls of social media.

Ronson and Carr agree on the fact that social media and technology are a powerful tool. Carr discusses in his book that with technology came a rewiring of our brains and loss of compassion. While I don’t think Ronson would agree with that technology rewired our brains, Ronson does agree that there is a lack of compassion on social media: “During the months that followed, it became routine. Everyday people, some with young children, were getting annihilated for tweeting some badly worded joke to their hundred or so followers”(Ronson 67). We have become desensitized to the vicious public shaming occurring on a daily basis. Ronson saw with his own eyes how quickly someone could be taken down by everyday people on social media, and the effect it has on that person. Social media can be too powerful. Carr shares that belief that social media is dangerous in many different ways. On the other hand, a major difference between Ronson and Carr is that Carr addresses technology more and how technological advances are causing this decrease in empathy. Ronson seems to believe that it has always been there.

Another major different between Ronson and Carr is that Carr believes technology is to blame for our problems with social media. I think that Carr is incorrect in this conclusion, and my thinking much closer aligns with boyd and Ronson. Boyd refutes Carr’s claims eloquently in her book, It’s Complicated. She and Ronson believe that people are to blame for our problems with social media rather than technology: “Blaming technology or assuming that conflict will disappear if technology usage is minimized is naïve”(boyd 152). Ronson shares similar thinking because he relates current public shaming to the public punishment of the past. Social media was not around during the times of public punishment, so people are the reason for these actions; not technology. Boyd and Ronson, on the surface, seem to be the most similar. However, I believe Ronson, boyd, and Carr all share a similar sense of cynicism toward human nature and society.

 

Adolescence and Social Media

While I was reading Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed And Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, I thought that Boyd made a convincing case on why it is so hard to live the way Ronson thinks people should. He said, “A lot of people move around in life chronically ashamed of how they look, or how they feel, or what they said, or what they did. it’s like a permanent adolescent concern. adolescence is when you’re permanently concerned about what other people think of you” (pg. 158). Ronson’s stance on how ease an individuals adolescence is that we should all try engaging life in the way a dog. He states, “A dog doesn’t lie. A dog doesn’t feel shame. A dog lives in the moment…We should be like dogs” (pg. 159). A way of achieving that shame-free lifestyle is method created by Blad Blanton, Ronson’s associate, is called “‘Radical Honesty”‘ (pg. 158). Essentially, radical honesty is a person admitting or following through with whatever is on his or her mind, no matter how weird or crazy the thought and that it is the only way to build real relationships.

In Boyd’s book, she talks about a past conversation she had with these two young girls Ashely and Abigail and recalls when Abigail told Boyd that their mom had treated the Abigail better than Ashely because of the way Ashely acted. Boyd recalls Ashley mentioning things that happened in her school such as “when boys mocked cheerleaders for their eating habits. Gossip about who might be pregnant, who was hooking up with whom, and who did what while drunk appeared to be standard fare” (pg. 130). Boyd then goes on to talk about how the way teens and young adults go about life, can really impact the way others live their lives. Boyd says, “the rise of social media has prompted tremendous concern about “cyberbullying.” Although the data suggests otherwise, the assumption among many parents and journalists is that social media radically increases bullying” (pg. 130).

The connection I want to make between the two authors is yes, Ronson has a good way of engaging life and it is probably the way everyone should try to live, but in today’s times with social media increasing and generations changing, it is very hard to live life using “radical honesty”. Personally, I think that using radical honesty or living in the moment is a hard thing to do because the times have changed and its harder to be a teen growing up then it was in the past. I chose the quote about all the high school things because it is a perfect example of the things teen and young adults think about now and with social media around, its easier to get those things out in the open. The one thing I don’t agree with about radical honesty is that there are levels of appropriateness that people should reach as they grow in life and radical honesty might now allow people to understand that. Continue reading “Adolescence and Social Media”