Author Archives: sjanetos

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.

Hi, My Name Is …. And I’m A Game-aholic

I’ve never played an online game in my life, but in my high school there was a signifigant number of people who had been in rehab for “gaming addiction”. The kids who were gaming addicts formed a sort of click of dweebs, but the worst part was their nerd status was not even accompianied by high grades. Despite having been rehabbed, boarding school created a low-supervision environment that allowed the kids to stay in their room and constantly game. The need to game took precedent over homework and other normal parts of life. They were constantly late to class and didn’t show up to weekend requirements.

One girl described her addiction to me. She would pretend to be sick to skip school and game, spending more than 15 hours a week hooked up to the controller. I believe her addiction was World of Warcraft, but the signs of addiction are the same for most online multi player games. After being rehabbed and sent to boarding school, her addiction had began to dissipate, but she fell in with a crowd of other gamers– enablers. She began to game again, maybe not to the point of addiction, but probaby more than a former addict should.

This is another problem with gaming. The gamers at my school didn’t have many social skills, and could mostly relate to other gamers. Of course, one of the activities they could do together was game, enabling each other in their addiction.

Other facets of the internet aren’t addictive as gaming. Many people can effectively use informational, social, and recreational sites without getting “addicted”. The game is different in that it creates an entire world where you can be what you want without the social constructs of normal life. This reminds me of the movie “Vanilla Sky” with Tom Cruise. Cruise’s normal life is in shambles so he signs up for a program called Life Extension, which allows him to live in a perfect lucid dream world. Real lucid dreams are difficult to accomplish, but in the game you can live in that perfect world without having to surrender conciousness. Just like with alcohol and drigs, where you enter into a different, some believe more tolerable state with substances, the game lets you leave real life and forget all your problems.

“Jungle Fever” And The Internet

Twitter account aimed at girls who like black guys (warning, pretty offensive).

The reading this week mentioned that OkCupid white users typically like to date other white users, while Asian and Hispanic female users seek out white male mates. This article is clearly out of date. Multiple white female celebrities dating black men has led to an epidemic of “jungle fever” among young white women

“Jungle fever” is when white woman exclusively date black men (Ariana Grande and Big Sean, Kylie Jenner and Tyga, Kim and Kanye etc.)Its a personal preference, or even an unintended coincidence, or maybe in some cases a concious descision. It is interesting in that typically women are fetishized online, but in this case men are fetishized. From this stems the want for your children to look “mixed”. Attempts to seem not rascist by dating people of different races actually highlight rascism. As interratial marraige and mixed heritage become more commonplace, racial barriers will be broken down, but only if these marraiges and unions occur because of mutual feeling rather than because dating a person of so and so race makes you “cool”. That’s just as bad as not dating someone because they are of such and such a race.

Why Is It All About Sex? Why Parents Should Be Worried About Way More Than Predators

“So here was fetishism turned on its head, made empowerment” — Nick Compton, on Alexander McQueen’s Autumn-Winter 2002 line

Sex on the internet is not a problem. Hear me out. Through the internet, young girls and boys are exposed to things they would eventually have to deal with anyway– but from the safety of their own homes, with the ever-present option to shut the page. Sex solicitations online are never pleasant, but they’re not as unpleasant as IRL solicitations where you either have to run away, make an awkward joke, or call the police.

I actually believe that sexual content online is a positive thing for young people. Not because I’m a perv. The world we live in is hyper-sexualized. Exposure to sexual content online allows teenagers to explore sex and sexuality in a safe environment. I am ignoring the “innocense loss” lamentation that parents seem to feel in favor of the realistic view that you can be innocent, yet informed. That’s where the internet comes in.

The internet provides a network for young people to learn about how they are viewed by adults and strangers in the real world. This knowledge creates power, and kids can do with that power what they will.

The online world is harmful in that it provides a network of enabling peers for much more harmful practices than sex, practices that parents don’t see occuring on the internet. One of the most potent of these is the Pro-Anorexia / Depression communities online. Many teenagers experience depression on a low level (either real or courtesy of a massive amount of hormones and the confusing barrage of emotion that comes with that). Without the internet, people would be more prompted to surpress these emotions (HOWEVER, surpressing clinical depression should never occur. I’m speking of the people who experience fleeting depression or intense sadness mislabeled as depression). With the existence of these communities, people revel in their negative emotions, strengthening them or making them the norm.

The same goes for the Pro-Ana community online. Many teenage girls are self concious of their changing bodies. Blogs which glorify intense weightloss regimes provide a network for people who might otherwise hide their body insecurity, reinforcing the pros of forgoing food for thinness. Blogs who post “bones-po” pictures, unrealistic diet regimes and weight loss goals, make vulnerable girls think that that is how they too should look and how they should be behaving in order to get that look. This was especially apparent with the “thigh gap” craze of 2014, the fetishization of some arbitrary body feature, the thigh gap being made the defining feature of a “good” body.

I feel that parents are all too aware of stranger danger online and the “loss of innocense” in a sexual form, rather than the mental and physical issues caused by depression and thinspo blogs that normalize and romanticize mental health issues, which have much longer lasting mental effects than, say, unwanted exposure to a dick pic.

Selfies and Superpublic

I’m not the first person to mention  Kim Kardashian today, but when people think of selfies, hers is one of the first faces to come to mind. In 2014, Kim cropped her baby out of a selfie, giving her much negative attention. Many tabloid articles were born from the Insta-scandal. Fans commented that she was selfish, wanted the whole spotlight to herself. One even wrote Kim “is a slutty mom who don’t care for her child”.

In last week’s readings, Rettberg said that sharing selfies can be compared to reaching out to hug the viewer- the viewer is closer to the subject than the camera. Celebs use this as a way to bring fans closer to them, making it seem like they are completely open. The fan thinks they know everything relevant about the celebrities life. This is the very idea behind a “selfie nation”. Nothing could be further from the truth. A lot of celebrities keep their children from the public eye as much as possible, children being the one small thing they won’t share with the public. However, Kim recognizes the post 9/11 attitube mentioned by Boyd: “if you hide something, you’re a terrorist”. Therefore, she and Kanye West have been extremely open and forthcoming with pictures of and information about their baby. This way, they aren’t hastled, and they handle the media on their own terms. The baby-crop scandal is proof that as soon as Kim censored her life the slightest bit, fans couldn’t handle it.

I wonder how the selfie city project would differ if it was taken on by celebrities instead of normal people posting Insta-pics. It probably wouldn’t- aside from being a lot more manicured. I take a lot of selfies in bed when I wake up. I also take a lot on the toilet. In this way, I am inviting people into the very intimate moments in my life. I expand Boyd’s definition of the superpublic to include the fact that with selfies, all spaces are in the public sphere- even the most private places in the home. I also wanted to note what “public” is. Boyd touched on the fact that the notion of a public is highly subjective- and a public may include members that a speaker doesn’t realize her or she is addressing. The “public” is a metaphysical term- and it is a concept that would not exist is we did not have a word for it. People in this age have the luxury of choosing their own public. With “selfienation”, it is apparent that the technically connected have chosen to make our entire lives public. People in very different cities all over the world have very similar image plots, which even further proves that many boundaries and distinguishing factors between nations no longer exist.

Creating versions of yourself FT. Lena Dunham

Reitman says that selfies are so prominent online because “we analyse the other writer primarily as a text rather than as a living, breathing human being.” That comment came across a little strange to me. It seems Reitman is arguing against accepting content without thinking of the author. But when we read books, do we constantly think about the author? Does each page contain a picture of the writer’s face, lest we forget who brought the story into existence? Unless it’s an autobiography, isn’t it better for the story to speak independantly of the person who wrote it? Maybe a selfie is a way to prove corporeal existence in the digital world, but other than on FaceBook and dating apps, why is there this obsession with “yes, I’m real.” Words and thoughts are much more important than the person who generated them.

There was a conversation in this week’s episode of Girls, where Chandra expresses disdain of  “cross pollination”, where blogs are turned into books are turned into TV shows. This is metaphysical in the context of the show, which is a semi-autobiography of director/ star Lena Dunham’s life. Dunham recently released a real autobiography of her life after the success of her TV show. Dunham has also directed a movie, Tiny Furniture, which was yet another semi-autobiography with minor changes. All of her productions and publications feature the same core cast. Dunham stars as versions of herself, ditto her friends, but with slightly different tweaks each time, as if she is moving infront of fun house mirror after fun house mirror. Here is a case where a woman has proved her existence, creating and starring in projects, but the observer still doesn’t know who she is.

Indescrepencies between versions of people exist on social media as well. I would argue that people are probably closest to themselves on Tumblr, because it is a platform that users don’t normally share with their IRL friends. It is also a platform where SELFIES ARE COMPLETELY OPTIONAL. Of course, it’s fun when bloggers have tagged/me pages, but it’s not like FaceBook or Instagram, where a meme-filled page generates that icky feeling that you’re being trolled. On Tumblr, you’re actually free to post whatever you want, and that is because no one will nessacerily see your face or your name. Forgoing selfies generates freedom.

If My Favorite 80s Movies Had Internet

Boyd says that today our online identities more closely reflect who we are in real life, the personas are tied together unlike the way users would “type themselves into being” in the beginning days of the Internet. It’s true to an extent, but Boyd has failed to consider the use of social media to legitimize yourself to yourself and to your real life peers.

“The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves make us who we are” (Kurt Vonnegut maybe). As a 15-17 year old girl on social media, my entire identity revolved around making myself seem as beautiful, mysterious, and desirable as possible. This was especially palpable through my Instagram and Twitter. I never bought followers, but I did my thirsty best to gain them through skanky hashtags and red-lipsticked photos. Once I hashtagged “like4bjs”. It’s laughable now but I’m not ashamed to admit it. During the time in adolescence where popularity and beauty seem like the two most important things in life, the crushing, Lolita-esque desire to feel love is manifested online. The affection you feel is artificial and fleeting, your heart pumping adrenaline as you refresh your photo again and again to see how many likes you have. The amount of followers, likes, reblogs and retweets you get makes you feel like some sort of goddess. Best of all, you know your school friends are jealous of your thousands of Instagram followers. Instagram and Tumblr “fame” have replaced playground popularity. Even if you’re the biggest outcast in your high school, getting love on social media creates an allure around you that fools your IRL peers into thinking you are actually cooler than them.

Then, last month Instagram deleted spam accounts, including fake profiles who have never posted a photo but follow hundreds of thousands. The penny-a-follow people. It was a glorious day. The people who had previously seemed like Instagram forces to be reckoned with were reduced to naked bundles of shame. The carefully manufactured online existence was shattered as people were forced to admit they were not as cool as pretended to be. It was the online equivalent of a queen bee takedown, akin to the stabbing of Ceasar or the fall of Regina George.

Imagine the Molly Ringwald Teen Queen Trilogy (Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Pretty In Pink). Now imagine the same thing with the internet. In Pretty In Pink, Molly would own a successful Etsy shop, selling her own wares, defining the “it” aesthetic and rocketing herself out of wrong-side of the tracks poverty. In Breakfast Club, she would be a secret Tumblr bulimic, an active member of the Emo/ Thinspo community where she would vent the feelings she couldn’t express in life (everyone in the Breakfast Club would be hardcore Tumblr addicts). The luddite rejects new technology, but if we had had this tool 20 years ago you can bet teens would use it for the same thing. Online personas are simply another story we tell ourselves about the people we think we are and the people we want to be.

Using dating apps to get free swag

“Personal Connections in the Digital Age” brought up many interesting interactions and influences of technology on modern day life. I especially liked the analysis of the New York Times cartoon “No one knows that you are a dog on the internet”. Although most people this age don’t have to risk being taken for a sucker on chat rooms- we’ve had too many internet safety classes to experience the allure- many religiously use Grindr and Tinder to flirt and find potential romantic partners, which can be just as dangerous, in the same way and in others.

Some people have taken use of these types of apps to the next level. This is a three part article about three people who use the app of their choice to use and manipulate victims for swag.

From what I read, most people were able to score free takeout and sometimes alcohol. The most fascinating part, though, was when the man in the article mentioned above made a completely fake profile to get even more stuff. The utter selfishness displayed in these is an example of the impact-imprint perspective discussed in “Personal Connections”. Dating apps are selfish, the user has the power to incessantly pursue or utterly ignore anyone they notice. In the world of Tinder, the user is a god who can construct the world they wish to inhibit, what kind of people surround them and who they talk to. As users realize this, it becomes more plausible to manipulate other users for personal gain.

This is also the result of the impersonalization of these apps. In chapter three, there is analysis of the benefits of internet, phone, and face to face interaction. Words, for the most part, are cold, and you can’t see the anger or hurt on the face of the victims who are tricked into sending free pizzas to strangers. If they try to tell off the person who manipulated them, they will probably be unmatched quickly. It becomes easier to lack regret when there’s no requirement that you will feel the consequences, and even that reinforces the god like nature of the user of dating apps.