Contributing To The Net Neutrality Cause, Geurilla Style

Net neutrality is finally and officially a thing, but leading up to this major descision, the internet was in a frenzy. I believe firmly in the net neutrality cause, so when I came across a Tumblr post asking me to call up this office, sign a petition, and most importantly share the post on my Twitter and Facebook, I immediately did as instructed. The only issue was, at the time I was logged into my boss’s Facebook on my computer (as an intern I’m sometimes responsible for her social media) and I forgot about that and accidentally shared the net neutrality post on her wall. Now, my boss is a social media famous quasi-celeb, so she got hundreds of likes, shares, and comments on the post. I quickly realized my mistake and re-shared it on my own wall, to a meager 2 likes. My own social circle was not tuned in enough, or didn’t care as much, about net neutrality as my bosses circle. I should have deleted the post off my bosses wall, but she thought it was funny (“I haven’t read any news in months that wasn’t from TMZ!”) so I left it there. I did way more for the cause by accidentally infiltrating someone else’s FB than I ever could have done on my own. It’s the sad truth that no matter how religiously you share and tweet about a topic, most of us just don’t have the following for it to make a difference.

Growing Up Digital/How to Adult

 

 

 

The above video is the introduction to a YouTube channel called How to Adult. The channel was started last year and has over 60 videos dedicated to their motto, “Adulthood isn’t something that happens to you, it’s what you make”.  The channel has almost 100,000 subscribers and popular videos include; How to ask someone on a date, do your taxes, ace a job interview, and how to manage living at home after college, plus all types of other things every burgeoning adult should know that your schools or parents didn’t necessarily teach you. The channel, its viewers, and creators all encompass this week’s concept of the Digital Native. This generation learns, teaches, interacts, and creates largely online and can barely remember a time when that was not the first option. Because of that we are innately different than generations before us but the idea that this someone creates this impossible rift between one generation and the next is comical. We are only using different mediums to communicate the same humanistic wants and needs we always have.

The term Digital Native has taken on many lives of its own and can now be seen with one simple Google news search as a divisively drawn line between us and them. Articles like CNN’s What Does it Mean to Be a Digital Native? , opens with the line “The war between natives and immigrants is ending. The natives have won “. What war were in ? Please explain, I was born after 1980, when have I been in this interweb combat you speak of?

There has definitely been a switch towards technology but this scare tactic of come with us or be left behind by the masses is problematic and mostly just silly. In authors Shah and Abraham’s  Digital Natives With A Cause?, they explain that a Digital Native can be a person who has “realized the possibilities and potentials of digital technologies in his/her environment” (Shah and Abraham 21), can’t that be grandma and grandpa face timing? or your Aunt learning how to do a recipe she saw on Pinterest thru youtube? And no one was forced toward that, its just been this natural progression that we have all experienced just some of us sooner than others.

Week 8: Slacktivism and Global Movements through Social Media

The notion of adolescence and childhood has been in a progressing state of blurriness due to the rising Digital Native population and the concept of technology functioning as a necessary part of young adult’s everyday lives. Shah and Abraham discuss in Digital Natives with a Cause? how this generation of individuals has the potential to cultivate a new wave of activists who can be empowered through technology to develop new movements to change the world. Engaging with local knowledge within the context of one’s community while actively appropriating global paradigms into these digital campaigns creates a beautiful balance between local and global perspectives. However, to assume this generation of individuals truly understands, appreciates, and appropriates their power is definitely stretching our faith and trust in this group of young people.

Popularized by turmoil in the Middle East and the Arab Spring, the term ‘slacktivism,’ is the notion that the individuals who are updating social media about relevant news happenings aren’t actually the individuals directly participating in the action or the movement. It is a kind of “bandwagon” effect, where these users believe they are helping the cause by using digital resources to update their followers, but the extent of their physical assistance to the cause my reap little to no benefit. In a way, it represents a false sense of confidence and is considered taking the easy way out when we are referring to notions of hard campaigning and protesting. However, the beauty of social media is that if one person tweets about a news event, pop culture reference or global issue, someone is likely to see it and respond, or at least make a mental note and be more conscious and aware as a result. Social media represents a highly visible, digital platform for all the world to see, digest and respond to.

One of my personal favorite examples of slacktivism and as Shah and Abraham coin “e-activism,” is the Kony Campaign of 2012.

The video has collected over 100 million views, as of today, and was one of the first success stories of digital activism in our modern era, besides the grass-roots social media campaign for Obama in 2008. Participants and users of all ages contributed to the cause by just sharing the YouTube link on their profile pages. At the time, it seemed like everyone involved was actively helping to capture Kony and solve the problem at hand, while the reality is that frankly they weren’t contributing directly to the cause. Some may argue that by sharing the video, it created awareness and lead to donations, which is true, but when you boil it down to the actions, simply sharing a YouTube video doesn’t help to capture the enemy. We must consider the extent of involvement individuals play in online activism.

#HeForShe

Like many of my fellow classmates here, I too acknowledge that I am a digital native. I have a difficult time thinking about what I did with my time when I was younger, you know, the  pre-internet days. My memories only go as far back to when we had dial-up in our house. I remember my mom telling me to stop using the computer so that she could make a call. Good times, right?

I thought this week’s article was especially interesting. As an avid social media user, I constantly see social good campaigns online. Use this hashtag or do this dare and donate. The internet has become a place for social awareness for today’s youth. It’s difficult to get the word out without the internet, in my opinion. As mentioned by authors Shah and Abraham in Digital Natives With A Cause?, “…Digital Natives no longer want to be ‘subjects’ of inquiry and research. With an aesthetic of playfulness, irreverence, and a collation of the terrains of the cultural and the political, Digital Natives have often demonstrated their new aesthetics of political participation, cultural consumption and social transformation.” I do believe that digital natives use the internet as a way to promote social good. And though I agree that slacktivism exists, I think the power that the internet has brought us has truly sparked more political or social involvement awareness.

One of the most recent and interesting campaigns I have seen is the #HeforShe campaign by UN Women. They called for men to participate and proclaim their support for gender equality. But I believe that the most important part of this campaign, is actress Emma Watson’s speech back in September. She became the face for this campaign, and I believe it is her influence that made the video of her speech be viewed more than 1 million times. It’s what news publications were sharing all over the internet. Because she is a young woman with influence, it inspired other young people all over the world to care. Thanks to the internet, it helped get her message out. I can’t even begin to explain how many times I saw her video and young people supporting her message online. Emma gave another speech that told about the success of the campaign after her speech in September. It just shows that it isn’t uncommon for digital natives to make some difference online.

Who are we Generation Y?

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Who are we? When I read todays reading I kept thinking this. This research attempts to define us, characterize us as ignorant, dumb, distracted, scattered, and addicted, but I am here to say that is a misunderstanding. I think it is easy to write us off with these adjectives, hell I even see why and how they could develop these terms, but I do not think they see the power within these digital natives, and these article seemed a bit bitter if you ask me. My generation, or Generation Y, have seen and experienced the Birth of the Web, the beauty and curse of anonymity, the labor of Web 2.0, and so much more! As the researchers state, we were born digital; one report mentioned that we are in “ a state of constant distraction powered by multitasking and gadgets that demand our attention”(15). But what does that really mean? Yes, we do have personal computers, smartphones; we now have access to honestly I don’t even know how much information, and right at our finger tips; Shah and Abraham state that we have fallen to wiki culture and that of copying and plagiarism, but I am still left with the question as to how to digest all of this. Here is a group of researchers categorizing, and limiting my people, my classmates, my friends, my siblings, into frame worked subsections, and I assume with a subjective purpose.

This blog is meant to serve as a backfire, or a counter piece to their research and claims. People may call us “screenagers”, but honestly let them say what they will; I think this shift has positively impacted not only our perspectives but also the way the world is seen. Our world is changing with technology, and I don’t see this modern culture dying down anytime soon, if anything there will be more growth and more development, and with that a new approach to the worlds daily tasks, normal issues, clashing cultures, and abstract phenomenons. I hope with todays discussion we will be able to better define ourselves, there is some truth to what they are saying but the identity that they are thrusting onto us makes the works and ideas we have developed, less impactful, I mean I personally would never categorize us as dumb, if anything our world has become so much more complicated, there is much more on our plate, many more people to care about, so many things have now become person issues. I think the beauty of the 90s kids come with the power of our voice, and the way in which we can say things. We have seen the differences, variations in our world, and the deviations in every profile, blog, and website. We thrive in society, and in our communities. I would say we are more self aware, and because of this misunderstood. People write off things that can not understand. This is a new branch of adolescence, we are digital natives, and our voices will make an impact I am sure of it.

Twitter Users as Social Justice Police

This week’s reading, “Digital Natives with a Cause,” described a growing concern for this current generation’s lot of “Digital Natives.” Digital natives are defined as a population that are interpersonally inept, socially inept, self-centered, and ignorant, among other negative aspects. These negative qualities are credited to the overconsumption and misuse of technology and the internet. However, in “Digital Natives with a Cause,” authors Shah and Abraham brought to light an interesting point:

 

“Youth are often seen as potential agents of change for reshaping their own societies. By 2010, the global youth population is expected reach almost 1.2 billion of which 85% reside in developing countries. Unleashing the potential of even a part of this group in developing countries promises a substantially impact on societies.”

 

This week, I wanted to argue with the critics of this generation’s ignorance level online. Ironically enough, I stumbled upon this article form Complex Magazine while at work, which reported on E! Fashion Police’s Guiliana Ranic’s culturally ignorant remarks of Disney’s Zendaya on her chosen hairstyle at this weekend’s Oscar Awards.

 

The article goes onto report that Twitter was used as a channel of frustration towards Guiliana—from fans, Oscar watchers, and Zendaya herself. I feel like this aspect of the situation reflects that this generation is not as ignorant as older generations may think. In fact, in some regards, this generation is even more socially aware of racism and ignorance from the older generation. Guiliana is not within the age range of the “Digital Natives.” It’s kind of funny how this article to me combats the critic’s argument on ignorance.

 

With so many cases of social media being used to stand up for causes, to call to action and mobilize, and to criticize anything politically incorrect, it’s hard to agree with critics on the “problem” of the Digital Natives population. Perhaps this is even more evidence of a generational gap between millennials and the older generation, and it makes me wonder even more whether or not the older generation studying and reporting on Digital Natives are overly critical on different behavior as opposed to negative behavior. Rather than trying to find actions that defines a so-called growing problem, perhaps these people should try to connect causation and action to understand rather than define. If this generation, as Shah and Abraham point out, is “shaping the world,” assuming only the negative aspects is totally the wrong approach.

Kickstarter and the Politics of Funding

“The Politics of Funding” in 3.3.5 of today’s readings were interesting to me, considering the use of numerous crowdfunding platforms as a way of conducting online community fundraising. The idea that it is “necessary to think of a funding model that offers incentives, financial assistance and support to ideas without the usual mechanics of funding and scholarship” is basically the idea that drives Kickstarter. However, there is a minimum threshold that must be observed to effectively accomplish any serious goals or to mobilize activity- lest it end up fulfilling the prophecy set out by the “Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism”. This theory suggests that people are not interested in using the Internet for activism- they would much rather surf pornography or lolcats.

Projects like this one on Kickstarter, where the initiator raised $55,000 for potato salad, demonstrates the entertainment value and troll effect that Digital Natives are undeniably influenced and oftentimes motivated by. Since the internet is a platform for recreation as much as it is for rather serious campaigning, the potato salad Kickstarter reflects the viral nature of the Internet that compels Digital Youth to support projects that are otherwise pretty professional.

In contrast, there are several examples of what a successful Kickstarter campaign (that is also aligned with social justice) might look like- take the Reading Rainbow project that raised $5 million on Kickstarter, for example.

But like any activist project, it takes a good marketing strategy to engage Digital Natives. Similar to the success of the Reading Rainbow campaign, the All of Us Mental Health campaign launched by a couple of offices in UCLA student government might be considered an effective use of media to convey activist causes. The particular strategy used here was to use photographs with a unifying theme that were photographed in the same fashion, then released at the same time. Part of this process tacitly recognizes a couple of things- such as the potential virality of releasing many photos at once (leading us to consider what might or might not be a good strategy to make content viral), and the use of profile pictures as a way of garnering attention (as opposed to simply sharing a post).

Whatever it is, the burden of proof seems to lie in the creators- so while it might be true that people consciously seek out pornography and lolcats over going fishing for an important social cause to donate to, they are evidently more than happy to support a well marketed and properly supported cause, the success of which is dependent on the creators. For me, this in no discredits users- it is human nature to gravitate toward an entertaining more than serious cause.

 

week 8

In the article for this week, Digital Natives with a Cause?, Nishant Shah and Sunil Abraham discuss this idea of the term “digital native”. The typical “digital native” is kind of this category that is shed in a negative light. The population considered to be “digital natives” are people whose youth has been significantly governed and changed by the internet, so children born around the 1980s. This group of people is described to have poor interpersonal and social skills, self-centered, and ignorant. All these qualities they believe stem from the overuse of the internet. These are some of the main qualities that were highlighted in the article, however they are generalizing these.

I think these ideas really related to some of our discussion talks, and about how parents feel that their children are losing some of their qualities from overuse of the internet. I found a CNN article that describes just this, where it is directed to parents and discussing whether children who would be considered “Digital Natives” are using the internet too much and whether it is dangerous for their development.

CNN bring up the ideas that the teen years are a time for exploration and experimentation and that the internet might hinder that because it is so public, but it also describes how it could be useful if used in the right way.

I feel that the internet and youth has this negative light around it, and this idea almost that children who use it too early are ending up later in life to be more “robotic” in a sense. But we still have yet to see the “Digital Natives” really grow into adults, and whether any of these hypothesis are true. I feel like these concerns will remain to stay until the “Digital Natives” generation has grown into their mid-20s and people can see really what “effects” the internet has had on youth. http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/21/opinion/clinton-steyer-internet-kids/

The Internet and Intolerance

The report discusses how cyberpublics (e.g. blogging, social networking, user-generated media websites like YouTube) help to disseminate images and information that promote liberal ideals of tolerance and co-existence. On websites like Tumblr, for example, you are able to find a vibrant culture of awareness, advocacy, and activism that educates users on social issues and critical theory in a way that allows individuals  to engage positively with a political community. In areas that are under the control of a totalitarian or authoritarian system, the Internet offers a way for individuals to resist oppressive socio-political power in a way that minimizes personal vulnerability. Individuals in these cultures are able to connect with like-minded individuals and actively protest acts of political or structural violence, giving their subversive discourse more cultural power.

However, I also think it’s important to recognize how the Internet can, in fact, be used to encourage intolerance. For instance, just as the Internet allows positively minded individuals to connect with other people with similar aims to promote positive change, it also allows increased interaction to people with more regressive or violent interests. Traditionally, members of hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan were only able to recruit members and spread messages of extremism via person-to-person contact; now, the Internet allows members to spread dangerous ideologies to others they would have otherwise not have been able to contact. (I would link to the KKK’s website here, but I actually don’t want to give them any more web traffic.)

And it’s not just these ostentatiously regressive political groups that promote intolerance in the age of the Internet. You can find equally dangerous but more furtive discourse on other, more benign areas of the Internet. For instance, in the subreddit “The Red Pill,” a community of users encourage a perception of modern society as being female-dominated (as opposed to male-dominated). The rhetoric on this website is implicitly (and, often, explicitly) misogynistic, with women being cast as cruel, consumeristic, unintelligent shrews and feminism being characterized as a conspiracy to ruin the lives of men. However, because the community is not obviously violent (with some very significant exceptions), their ideas and ideologies are able to be consumed by naive users without critique.

My point is that the Internet can be used as an instrument of spreading both tolerance and intolerance, and that merely identifying the positive aspects without recognizing the negative results in an unfortunately unbalanced idea of the digital world.

Week Eight: The Myth of the Digital Native

Nishant Shah and Sunil Abraham’s, Digital Natives with a Cause?, discusses the advent of the term “digital native” to describe “children born after 1980; youths significantly affected by the rise of Internet technologies; [and] an emerging global population growing up with digital technologies central to everyday functioning.” This report also focuses on the limited scope that academic literature has displayed in regards to the digital native identity, which has lead to “no theoretical understanding or serious expostulation of what a Digital Native identity can mean.” The digital native is generalized as ignorant and dumb, with an addiction to the Internet that leads to poor social skills. The Internet also serves as a place for digital natives to be more confessional and allows for a limited notion of privacy, as well as allowing digital natives to become self-centered and self-important. These are a few of the many negatives that have been focused on in regards to the digital native in literature, but are obviously generalizations.

In an article published in The Baffler called “The ‘Digital Native,’ a Profitable Myth,” author Jathan Sadowski claims the terms digital native and digital immigrant, which first appeared in A 2001 article written by the education consultant Marc Prensky, “are prime subjects for inquiry. In brief, they overlook socio-economic differences, which exist within the younger generations, and do so in a way that creates lucrative business opportunities for education gurus.” Shah and Abraham’s report issues a similar criticism and states that “engagement with youth should focus on their development as responsible and active citizens rather than on their digital exploits or technologized interests.” However Sadowski argues “when we take a look at the data and research, however, it becomes clear that the great divide between ‘digital natives’ and ‘digital immigrants’ is a puff of smoke—one that obscures the actual differences that other factors (like socio-economic status, gender, education, and technological immersion) play in digital proficiency.” What is happening in the discussion about digital natives is that “we effectively erase the stark discrepancies between access and privilege, and between experience and preference. By glancing over these social differences, and just boosting new technologies instead, it becomes easy to prioritize gadgets over what actually benefits a diverse contingent of people. And those skewed priorities will be to the detriment of, say, less well off groups who still lack the educational resources necessary to learn basic reading and writing literacy skills.” The digital native moniker erases many individuals, who, while born after 1980, do not, because of differences in education, literacy, etc, conform to the notion of a digital native.