Net neutrality has been a big issue in the news lately, and it is a topic I have always found very interesting. I really enjoyed the What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality Algorithmic Filtering and Ferguson reading. I knew that net neutrality was always an issue with large media companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and in opposition of smaller companies like Facebook, Google, and Netflix.
So I was essentially surprised when this article stated that Facebook was doing its own filtering with its content when Ferguson occurred. I thought about it for a while, but it made sense. I knew Facebook already tracked our information. They want to track how their users utilize the site because it gives them a better idea of how to create a website ideal for their users.
But my problem with this is it makes me ask, “Why and how will this affect us in the future?” Is streamlining information this way a good idea for users online? If the internet was originally meant to be an infinite space for us to share information, filtering data essentially goes against this. This goes back to our original talk a few weeks ago about how personalizing data to what a particular user likes only reaffirms their beliefs and promotes close-mindedness. Despite the issue of net neutrality, it seems that it is still happening within companies like Facebook. Any website can streamline the type of information that can be shared on their websites. Ferguson is very controversial, and it makes you really question who gets to decide what we are allowed to share and see on our social media accounts. At the heart of it, the purpose of journalists is to get the news out the the public. But if online media is limiting the word from getting out, it may just be a stance against freedom of speech, in general.
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.
I honestly was not surprised to find that Asian Americans were the fastest growing racial group while reading Theresa Senft and Safiya Umoja Noble’s “Race and Social Media,” Though I too noticed some of the issues in the way Pew Research Center categorized different Asian races into one, all-compassing racial group. It doesn’t accurately explain the proportion for each Asian community. But anyway, I digress…
As an Asian American myself, I never really understood the need to always identify myself as “Asian American” and not just “American” until I realized that identifying myself with the first label was important in explaining who I am. First-generation Asian Americans often find it difficult growing up in the United States because they’re trying to find a harmonious way to incorporate their ancestors’ culture while fitting into the American way of life. And honestly, it can be very difficult. For me, it was especially hard because I went to schools where the Asian population was not very large. I had a very few small friend group that could relate to my struggles (because we were all first-generation Americans in our family), but most of my friends did not experience the same upbringing as I did.
[Insert “The Internet” Here]
When I was in middle school, I was introduced to the wonderful, somewhat life-changing world of the internet. From Myspace to YouTube, I found comfort in watching videos of other Asian Americans who would talk about the same issues I was experiencing growing up as an Asian American. This community was then built among those who shared the same experiences. The internet became the place for Asian Americans to connect.
I realize now that much of the Asian-American dialogue regarding struggles and shared experiences can be found online. I could never find myself fully identifying with girls on TV or in movies. I now do social media for an online publication called Mochi, that strives to create a community for Asian-American young girls and women. Being part of this online publication helped me realize how wide-reaching the Asian-American community is online. YouTube and other online communities are still the place for Asian Americans to talk with one another because it’s still uncommon in mainstream media. This is why ABC’s new family sitcom “Fresh Off The Boat” is such a big deal for the Asian American community. It’s allowing their voices to be heard in a way that was not representative of their community before. I think the internet will always be the place for the Asian American community to connect and share, but hopefully this is the start of mainstream media incorporating more of what quickly growing minority populations within the United States need.
When you go online…who can you trust… who should you fear…?
Cyberbully is British television Channel 4’s most recent TV docu-drama, which first aired in January. Maisie Williams (most commonly known for her role of Aria Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones) stars in the film. She plays Casey, a teenage girl who “lives her life out online”. She partakes in cyberbullying, as well as falls victim to it. She eventually comes in contact with a hacker that accesses personal information on almost all her technological devices. Casey is eventually manipulated into taking part in cyberbullying. If she does not comply, the hacker threatens to post personal pictures of her online. As mentioned in danah boyd’s reading, “Those who subscribe to Olweus’s definition view bullying as a practice in which someone of differential physical or social power subjects another person to repeated psychological, physical, or social aggression.” Towards the end of the film, Casey is almost led to overdose on antidepressants because of the eventual power the hacker holds over her.
I have yet not seen this film, but it’s available online to view for a few more days. After coming across the article on the film a few days ago, it made me think that this TV thriller is literally every parent’s nightmare. From hackers accessing personal information and ruining someone’s image, these are present day issues that are on the minds of every online user today. The most interesting aspect of this film is that it’s based on true “online horror” stories. Though the film acknowledges that it may be an exaggeration, I think it aids in the incorrect way of dealing with the internet. How should we be teaching teens about the internet?
More importantly, the film addresses common issues related to the internet such as “hackers”, “the who you can trust question”, and ultimately “identity”.
People don’t like selfies and they’re making a serious stand against them.
I’ve been seeing an article circulate recently that lists places all over the world where selfies have been banned. Who would’ve thought it would come to this point and become such a problem? And you can actually get in serious trouble to the point where you get fined a ton of money!
Guaranteed, each location has legitimate reasons for the selfie ban. For example, being banned from taking a selfie in Pamplona, Spain amidst “Running of the Bulls” is completely understandable. Safety is obviously the main concern because, well, you could get killed! One man who took a selfie with a bull charging right behind him was fined $4,000 for the act. And Spain isn’t the only ones dropping large fines. Great Britain and South Korea are limiting people’s use of the “selfie stick”. Though Great Britain isn’t charging, they do ban selfie sticks in crowded areas and popular music venues. South Korea, on the other hand, is not afraid to charge you up to $30,000 and a possible three-year jail sentence for using unauthorized, Bluetooth selfie sticks. Are you afraid now? Because I am.
One of the most interesting locations for me that banned selfies for the holidays is La Garoupe Beach in France. The beach was designated as a “No Braggies Zone”, and holiday police officers patrolled the area stopping anyone who tried to take a selfie. When I did some further reading on this, I found out that in France, a selfie is synonymous to bragging. To them, if you take a selfie, it almost always means you have something to brag about and will most likely post it on social media to share with your friends. Long story short, the purpose of the “No Braggies Zone” is just that. Don’t brag to your friends, and do not make them hate you as you get your tanned on a white sandy beach while sipping margaritas. Basically, enjoy the moment… but keep it to yourself.
As Jill Walker Rettberg’s book, Seeing Ourselves Through Technology, mentioned, celebrities tend to have more liberty when it comes to self-expression and self-representation online. And though that might be, I think we can agree that doesn’t mean it holds true for every celebrity. Many celebrities claim that they use social media as a way to connect with their fans. As they post “every-day life” photos, it shows followers how human a celebrity is, and how they’re “just like us”.
I wrote “just like us” in quotes because I don’t mean to say that these celebrities are not, but there’s definitely a different way society perceives someone whose life and career is already so public. I think fans are still primarily “readers of text”, a term Rettberg used in the People or Text? section in Chapter 1. There are still few celebrities who actively engage with their followers by replying to comments and taking part in conversations online. They continually post, and their fans continually like, comment, double tap, retweet, favorite, repost, etc. Even I take part in this. I enjoy following my favorite celebrities on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. It really is interesting to see how they live their day-to-day life and keep up with their lastest projects. There’s a particular admiration we hold for these celebrities, which is why we follow them.
But what happens when celebrities post something they normally wouldn’t or, more importantly, “shouldn’t”? As an audience, it is not uncommon for us to be judgmental of what is posted. We still have a right to decipher what is acceptable for certain people to share. This was an issue quite some time before, but former-actress Amanda Bynes comes to mind. She used to have her own TV show on Nickelodeon and often played roles with the “good-girl” image. Then she began tweeting things considered rude or unladylike. She was highly criticized and many of her fans growing up found themselves asking, “What happened to her?”. She is not the only female celebrity to get in trouble for what she posts. From Miley Cyrus to Kim Kardashian, there are a number of celebrities online who continually receive high criticism because they aren’t representing themselves on social media as how society expects them. I agree with Rettberg that this is true. Society has expectations for women and how they present themselves online. If they don’t follow, then we’re led to judge them for their so-called “poor social media choices.”
There were so many points that It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens by danah boyd made that really puts into words what we may all be thinking about our identity on the internet. When it comes to our presence online, profiles on any social media platform can give us the opportunity to paint ourselves to be the person we want to be. Like boyd mentioned, that particular identity can change from one platform to another. She gives the example of a girl who is an avid One Direction fan. She shares her love for the band on Twitter, but not necessarily when she’s with her friends. Social media has given us an easier way of expressing ourselves to the world, and it connects us to people we may not know in real life, but fan girl just the same as we do over our favorite bands.
One of the most important aspects of identity online, I believe, is our profile picture (or avatar). What is so important about these photos? Well, it is what instantly identifies us to other people on the internet. If you’re looking for someone on Facebook, they can identify you from all the other “John Doe” profiles based on your photo. It automatically helps someone identify you and say, “Oh yeah, that’s him!”
It isn’t very uncommon to hear nowadays the phrase, “Making it my profile pic!” Millennials, in particular, seem to put a great amount of time and thought into choosing their pictures. We would never make our worst pictures of us profile pictures because it makes us look bad or it gives us a negative online “identity”. I recently came across an article shared by The Washington Post that gave a brief overview of a study done on how people react to certain profile pictures. Turns out, if you’re wearing a hat or have short hair, people will more likely have a negative response to your photo. Isn’t that interesting that we can measure relatively you’ll get more likes on one photo than another? It makes sense as to why many of us (but definitely not all) take time and effort to choose the best photo we want to represent our best self. Because the opportunity to do so is there, I don’t see why we wouldn’t take that chance. I think everyone wants to present their best self because we live in a society where those that do so are rewarded. The reward? Likes and comments full of compliments, of course.
I was waiting in the hallway for my 11am classroom to clear. I decided to kill time by checking my email on my phone. A man suddenly passes by the hallway and enthusiastically yells:
“Y’all need to get off your phones and in a book!”
I looked up from my phone to see the man smiling and shaking his head… as well as 6 other startled people standing in the hallway. Surprise, surprise! We all had our phones in our hands. I laughed to myself because, well, you’re in this class and you already know why.
I definitely enjoyed the Nancy K. Baym’s Personal Connections in the Digital Age reading. It was very in-depth and as scholarly article, relateable in many ways. The reading touched upon a number of points that even I think about when I think about technology today and its relationship with society. I found the topic of “disconnect” especially interesting. Is technology really making us more antisocial? Are we becoming too dependent? From the number of articles I’ve come across these past few weeks, it seems so. From “8 Science-Backed Reasons To Turn Off Your Cell Phone This Christmas” to “Bored … And Brilliant? A Challenge To Disconnect From Your Phone”, it seems that society is now acknowledging that: Yes. We have a problem.
Throughout this reading’s entirety, it made me think of a video that I saw 2 years ago. It uses a split screen to show a situation play out, but with different outcomes. The difference between the 2 scenes? One introduces the use of technology. It’s a very powerful almost-5 minute video. And when I watched it at the time, it really made me think about the role that technology has come to play in our every day lives. There’s been a number of times I’ve walked down the street and ignored what was going on around me. I’ve become more aware of the technological, social media realm, but have often looked pass what I experience in the “real world”. I’m still a little bit stuck in my own understanding of how to approach the topic of technology in our lives, and whether it has positively or negatively affected our relationships. As of right now, I can say that it has done both. Technology has allowed us to connect with people with same interests and whom we may never meet in real life. But it is times like these, what I saw while waiting in the hallway, that confirms we have lost something special with human connection.