The innovation of Loneliness

no explanation needed.

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Mass vs New Media

The reading entitled ‘The Facebook Conundrum’ personally in light of the reading could be re-named as ‘The online world a conundrum of this century’ truth is the public no longer really knows what is private and what is public, because social networking on the Web has blurred the lines between these two very important features. Journalists are in constant self-battle as to whether or not publishing found information is ethically correct or not acceptable, the Internet has only increased this problem.

Nowadays we blame everything no matter if it is relevant or not on the web/internet. Why? I believe because it is the easiest way out, the simplest explanation as to why something happened or had to happen. Yes the internet has indeed taken over many aspects of our lives, but instead of seeing the positives the internet has bought to us, society has decided to, although taking its existence for granted, to focus most energy on the factor of how it is influencing us and changing the ways we act and interact with each other. The internet is a conundrum it is a behemoth to the society, and the reason for it, I believe is, that we (society) do not know how to handle the powers that come along with it. We live in a world today where most people have instant access to information platforms- individuals can be a click aways to ruin a reputation or glamour a reputation- society has gotten used to having information at their disposal in seconds giving pressure to journalists and media outlets. It is us who are creating the high demand on information. We are setting high standards in information gain and trying our absolute best to increase the pace at which everything and anything gets published for out eyes to see.

The major problem as mentioned before we no longer know as to whether we may or may not be allowed to use various information sources found in the web, especially on online media sites. Personally I believe that it is pretty simple, in my perspective if I post my opinion, status or photo or anything online it was my choice to do so and I did this for the public to see it- yes somewhere in myself I would feel exploited if this information was used either for me but especially against me- nevertheless it was my choice to post it online in the first place. As the article clearly states ‘the Internet blurred the lines between public and private, and allowed reporters to access personal information with unprecedented ease……’This content is both private and public at the same time. It is private in the sense that it was intended for a specific audience of friends. But it is also publicly available online.’  – it is clear that what people write online is available to everyone – if it does not use an explicit privacy setting. It is a two way street in which both journalists and social media users, personally still need to learn a lot – Reporters do not know how to handle information from social network sites and social network users have still not understood the complexities of social media sharing.   

The topic I believe is very complex and controversial because the one point that always sticks in ones ethical head is just because the information is there and accessible does not mean that it needs to be used. The question is really when does anyone know when it is right or wrong to publish anything – the information is out there so why not publish it?- but why publish it if you know that someone, anyone could be troubled by your actions? 

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What on earth are you doing, and why on earth are you doing this?

ImageToday, we no longer life in a broadcast society where if one wanted to communicate to the mass has to go through multiple procedures of printing press and the clear watch of the gatekeepers. Controlling information and the flow of information then was done by elites, and moneymakers. In contemporary times however, it is done by a simple click of a button at any time, any place, any where by anyone, controlled by codes.

We are in a contemporary epic battle of power in cyberspace, trying to understand why and who is controlling what we are seeing, when we are seeing it, and if we ever see it at all. The TED Talk done by Eli Pariser raises the fundamental question to whether or not the internet really connects us to others or not- the problem being the shift of how information is flowing to the receiver. Eli Pariser talks about the phenomena ‘invisible algorithmic editing of the web’ and that it clearly defines what is seen and published to the individuals tastes according to his interaction and everything that surrounds the point of interaction with the internet- most commonly known to be done by the Facebook News feed. 

Personally I find this being a very controversial topic, due to the fact that I cannot define whether or not it is a PROBLEM or NOT. Society is becoming more aware that ‘the internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see but not necessarily what we need to see!’ and it is true. Speaking from my own personal encounter with Facebook, a couple of weeks ago, without truly being aware that this phenomena of ‘invisible algorithmic editing of the web’ was being done to my own individual interaction with the web, I asked myself why I seem to be getting so much information on my News Feed by specific friends that I have on Facebook but not others.

1. Yes there is a button in which you may or may not register your ‘favourites’ and to be completely honest I had forgotten about this.

2.There are many applications that allow you to enable/disable certain friends information to appear on the News Feed screen

3.Truth is I have 525 Facebook friends, yes I do know all of them, but do I write to them everyday? Can Facebook give them equal importance into my life? Am I able to connect to them all at once? Do I know what is going on in their lives? Do I see what they post online everyday? The answer to all the last questions I posed is NO, the truth is also that i could probably substitute 400 of those friends on Facebook from my virtual profile and life, if i were to solely depend on the factor of if I speak to them on a day to day basis. So all the ‘invisible algorithmic editing of the web’ really does in this case is ‘delete’ certain friends off of my mind, that I do not contact everyday, without me having to click a button and deleting them in reality. Now the question is again is this a PROBLEM or NOT. Surely it is not ethically correct- as instead of giving what they promise ‘ information and interaction with a full range of cultures and communities’ – the do the opposite and create a individualised culture out of my preferences. They don’t really give us an option, because they see the available information at their disposal as an opportunity to sell products and spread opinions, build relationships and bring certain people closer together than others. 

When reflecting what has been said in the TED Talk on to our course work, Eli Pariser would definitely be seen as a tech determinist as he refers to the perspective of how technology is the cause that is impacting and imprinting on society. So this raises my last question to this phenomena: does it influence us in what we think feel and do? And how would we know if society isn’t fully aware that it is being done to them. 

The reason why I chose to integrate a quote from the other reading ‘Friend or Foe? WikiLeaks and the Guardian’ was due to the fact that the issuing of censored information to the public raises as many controversial questions as the decision to choose what information and individual seems to prefer. 

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Who can we trust? When anonymity is around?

In our ever developing technological world we keep trying to understand and make sense of what the new media both gives us and takes from us. How it effects our personal, cultural and historical presumptions and values. There are many types of reactions new media evokes in society, one of the most significant being cultural anxieties. Ever since technology has become a part of our live and has intruded in our daily business it has been conceptualized as an external agent, which acts upon our individuality and changes our society. We are surrounded by messages in all forms and contexts, relying our research on the authenticity, quality and the effect we receive from media. Our biggest assumption being that new media physically and socially separates us and re-connects us in the virtual world of online platforms.

With this comes the greatest social construction made through the media ‘anonymity’ due to the uncertainty in mediated environments we are no longer able to purley trust who is sitting ‘on the other side’ because without the visual or auditory social cues, everyone is able to be anyone. When looking at the concept explained in the heart breaking and shocking video one realizes that especially in contemporary times children are more exposed to pornography and sexual encounters through using media, than they used to be. The reason for this is that they do not have enough education and human experience to know what is really being done to them and what it is that they are doing, at the young age they are at. Less developed countries are particularly effected by this phenomenon due to the lack of education, and one of the reasons why they are exposed to these social issue to the vast extent that they are.

We often expect that sparse social cues are the reasons to why people lie about their identity. The case of ‘Sweetie’ both shows how the ability of anonymity is both positive and negative. The possibility of being able to generate a virtual doll that resembles a human being in every way is awe breaking and shows how new technologies have developed to increase the ability to change the world positively. On a societal level, anonymity has opened the doors to liberation from the divisions that come about from seeing one another’s race, age, gender, disabilities and many more.
This portrays why it raises fear of how powerful new media really is. Society has every write to be in uncertainty of the large changes occurring through new media, however the changes are inevitable and we need to learn to understand them in order to control them.

Nowadays adult men use the forces of the internet to lure girls into inappropriate relationships- pedophiles all over the world are directing porn films, with 6 year old girls through social platforms, webcam sites and chat rooms, they are helpless and left struggling to recover, unknown to the extent of damage that was really done to themselves. Society especially parents are living in moral panic, trying to minimalize the extent od media exposure their children receive, nevertheless new media has become such an integral part of our society, our lives that it is inevitable. We cannot change our changing technological world, we can only understand it and make good use of it.

‘Sweetie’ is an inspiration to change the world, it is using new technologies, integrated with new media to stop violence done to innocent children. Making sense of what is given to us by the new media technology 

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Studying Media Effects (Own topic blog)

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Hyperbole is one of the most conveniently used rhetorical device that is used to specifically focus and pin point a specific opinion or idea. Hyperboles are used in different mediums in advertisements whether print media, radio sports, TV, online advertisement or promotional websites. Advertisements are constructed with hyperboles and hyperbolic statements to attract customers and persuade them of the positivity that a product could pose to them and their life.

Different types of hyperboles:

  • Visual Hyperbole
  • Audio Hyperbole
  • Verbal Hyperbole
  • Negative Hyperbole
  • Verbal Hyperbole

A true example of the use of all these hyperboles at one is with the advertisement video ‘To this day Project’ by Shane Koyczan- The superficial level being beauty has different facades and everyone is beautiful. It is a spoken word poem: with the purpose of having a far reaching and long lasting effect on bullying

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltun92DfnPY (please watch video)

The author effectively uses all these hyperboles constructed into music, tone of speech/voice, language used, change in visuals ect. in order to create strong emotions and connectivity of the viewer to the topic discussed. It effectively and with deep emotions persuades the audience to act against bullying. 

The reason why this works so effectively is due to the fact that every human being has a natural reflex and reaction towards certain persuasive appeals. The trigger for this reaction lies within the brain, an area called the amygdala. Humans cannot control the amygdala, which leads to the uncontrollable affect that our body has on persuasive messages. 

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Humans are naturally persuaded by persuasive messages. They shape evolution of mass media effects through integration in promotional material, they are often used to spread propaganda and directly influence public opinions and attitudes. This whole process was also investigated in the historical study of mass and media effect where two main categories try to show the evidence of media effects:

(1)    Documented expression of concerns of media effects

(2)    Evidence of behaviour changes due to media

 

This account falls under the category ‘evidence of behavior changes due to media’ specifically: ’People appear persuaded by persuasive messages’ One could say that through this proposition there are media effects both in contemporary times as well as historical times and although one with historical research needs to prove cause by using anecdotal examinations and cannot specifically justify what had happened previously, as there are no personal experiences and direct observations, the effect of media is inevitably and apparent by the changes in behavior seen. Furthermore, this leads to the discussion of whether or not we could teach the body to switch of the amygdala, in order to prevent emotions reactions towards misuse of language, propaganda, appeal to emotion and fright reaction. 

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Framing in relation to Cultural Studies – Women’s representation in sports

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The news media circles our lives daily giving society the feeling that what they are reporting on is presenting our reality ‘the way it is’. We believe that they are neutral reporters; they are objective to every issue that encompasses them yet this ideal view is not reality. Journalists, reporters and writers are subjective, they decide on what to report on and how to construct the reporting into an effective way in order to deliver their work in a given context to a implicit and direct audience. Frames determine what is selected and excluded or emphasised with in the media.

‘Frames seen as patterns of interpretation through which people classify information in orderto handle it efficiently’- Ditram Scheifele

Frames have ideological views they build on assumptions that mainstream media delivers to the audience. The audience in effect forms attitudes, opinions and makes judgments based on the information consumed, as frames showcase events that we have not directly experience. Frames can influence individuals to make particular connections, impact knowledge, persuade and invite the audience to think about an issue in a particular way. There are four main ways in which frames work with an individual’s interpretation:

  • defining the issue
  • determining the cause for an issue
  • noting the implications for an issue
  • the treatment of anissue.

In light of my research paper and the representation of women in media there is always a particular frame set on women in the media. The ‘stereotypical, ideological women’ is represented daily in the media and has significant influence on the way we perceive females in society. What many do not realise is that it is not just a question of representation, but also the empowermentof women. News is designed for a male audience, the have more men than women as newsreaders and reports and there is a remarkable dominance of men as subjects in media. The reasoning for this is the women in media are still considered to be an unreliable and untrustworthy source of information. We are setting a focused frame on the way we see women in society, and the media is projecting this frame to the world. Their lack of presence in the field of communication and the lack of empowerment and stereotypical image is specifically seen in media framing female athletes and women’s sports. Researchers have found that there arefour emergent themes that are commonly applied to women in sport and this showcases that although the subject discussed are women they turn the attention on the strong male dominance:

  • Mental weakness
  • Male reference
  • Motherhood and Sisterhood
  • Celebrity

Media deliberately tries to focus the attention on the strong male and the weak woman, the empowered man and the voiceless woman, no matter which field is taken into consideration. There is a common negative portrayal of female athletes and women’s sports in sport magazine and favouritism shown to male athletes through the amount of media recognition. Women are underrepresented and unfairly framed in the media, the way they are represented and showcase women as being inferior in sports influences the perception of children and young female athletes. It deliberately damages their perception and discourages them to partake in a variety of sports.

Personally I believe children should be encourage to participate in all sports no matter what gender they are, they should not be dissuaded to participate in either a ‘female-dominant’ or ‘male-dominant’ sport. If the media and society would not define these two fields of sports as being gender based children would not have the problem of choosing where to fit their identity in. Frames especially gender frames influence the young generation in a frightening way we impose the frames on society and raise a gender roleconflict that penetrates our day-to- day live. The problem with frames is that they are so subtle and the audience is unaware of the influence,which magnifies its power on their public opinion.

Being someone who grew up with an older brother and finding passion in ‘male dominant’ sports, it was and still is difficult for a girl to be able to embrace the stance of having passion for ‘male-dominant’ sport. Girls are always seen as the weaker link in sports, especially team sports, we are picked last, we are ‘the person’ no one wants on their team, although we might overthrow some boys in excellency in the specific sport. Similarly to this I realised that within my passion for golf, reflecting upon what I have learnt I have realised that, my role models in golf are all males. Why? Because female golfers are not given the attention in media to the extent that male golfers have. If I were to talk about Annika Sorenstam, Mickey Wright or Kathy Whitworth, very few would break out in awe. If I were however to talk about Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan, conversation would break out, because the media covers more material on these individuals and gives the audience an emphasised frame.

I believe that frames are important they guide and inform society, but at the same time they are a powerful tool that destroy and influence society to think negatively or less of some subject, issues or individuals than others.

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Chapter 8 ‘The Emerging Of Critical And Cultural Theories Of Mass Communication’

‘The emerging of critical and cultural theories of Mass Communication’

Critical and cultural theories in today’s research and society have been adopted as alternatives to the limited effects theory. Limited effects theory raised several questionable assumptions and limitations looking at the immediate and direct effects. This new and further development of cultural theories of mass communication in the 1950s-1960s created a focus on the individual as well as cultural changes and how shared understanding and social norms change, instead of the complexities of interactions with media. Researchers were now investigating the effect on the way people create, share, learn and apply culture through media. Raising the question; How does media intrudes into life and how do we see ourselves as well as our relationships through media interactions?

The theories are divers as the concept of culture is at center. The questions that are inevitable and most interesting to researchers are: how culture is created, learned, shared and applied. We want to make concepts of these phenomena’s in orders to understand who we are and what we want or should be in this widely influenced media world. Today more than ever society is concerned with the change in media influence on the younger generations of society. Researchers are focusing on the quantity to children’s interaction with the media, as they are seeing a devastating decreasing pattern of non-existing ‘real’ face-to-face communication. The question that always arises in my mind is whether or not this is over exaggeration of the influence of media or if this actually has an effect on societal change. The answer to the question however is apparent because it has been proven by many theories, concepts and researches that media is among the most powerful forces in young peoples lives, today messages about families, peers, relationships, gender roles, sex, violence, food and values are gained by the media. Modern mass media dominate everyday communication. Each generation in society has their own particular use of the media- even if some might defend their souls by saying they are not interacting with the media, they are always in an inevitable way interacting with the media in an indirect way through others that communicate information found in the media. A major concern for researchers is that we humans are ‘loosing touch with locally based cultures and moving into a media based global culture.’

Cultural studies focus a large quantity of research on the ‘personal media’ how media influences and structures the way we live on a day to day basis. Therefore dichotomy is used to differentiate between Microscopic interpretative theory- focus on the individual and social groups use of media to create culture and Macroscopic structural theories- focuses on how media institutions are structured with capitalist economies. I believe that the reason why we need to define between these two layers is to make it more apparent to our own culture and society what and how media truly influences our lives or not. Both theories develop in relative isolations as the one focuses on the individual level explanation and how we are personally influenced by media and the other focuses on the societal level theories and how we apply it to the general and create new patterns within a given society.

Therefore the Critical Theory was constructed in order to openly respond to certain values and use these values to evaluate and criticize the status quo, providing alternate ways to interpret the social role of mass media. Social research especially grand social theories are ‘highly ambitious, macroscopic, speculative theories that attempt to understand and predict important trends in culture and society’- The importance of the whole of cultural theories is that they are not theories of media but theories of society offering observation about the media and their place in society and individual lives.

One of such was Karl Marxs- who created the ‘Marxistic Theory’- a theory arguing that hierarchy class system is at the root of all social problems and must be ended by a revolution of the proletariat. A very interesting finding he came upon was that ‘human beings shape the world using the technology and physical resources that limit and determine what people can achieve.’ This concept can be applied very well to the world because we always try to find answers to questions that make us understand who we are in this great world. Another opposing view of this theory is the Neo-Marxism view, which focuses on the superstructure issues of ideology and culture rather than on the base. One of the supports Williams gave society an innovative, pessimistic perspective of mass media’s role in modern society basing his ideals on the basic humanistic values as well as cultural pluralism and egalitarianism- Personally he makes one of the most memorable remarks of the reading as he says ideology is created through the media as being ‘those images, concepts and premises which provide frameworks through which we represent, interpret and understand and make sense of some aspects of social existence’ As mentioned we humans have it in our humanistic systems that we want to understand who we are- we make up concepts and create theories to understand how we are influenced by others especially the media

Another subset of cultural studies that focuses more on the elite control of economic institutions and how these effect social institutions and mass media is the Political Economy Theory. This theory also remarks a very significant point of the concept of studying media influence in terms of society ‘corporate influence pervades nearly every aspect of society. From simple things, like our daily diet and clothes we wear to how we communicate with each other.’ There has been an ongoing debate between cultural ad political studies and which of the both are more significant- cultural studies focus on the individual while political studies focuses on large social orders and elites. Both show positive and negative attributes, strengths and weaknesses. Most interestingly however is that all cultural theories discussed in the reading tend to, although showing strong positive aspects have the weakness of lack of scientific verification and subjective faultiness. This makes post positivists and believers of the limited effects theory rise and shine as they believed that theories were too speculative and the empirical research generated from these theories were too loosely constructed.  Post positivists cannot accept cultural theories as they do not show enough empirical data and are not replicable, nevertheless the quantity of ‘Qualitative’ research and information gained from the concepts of Cultural Theories dominate over the pessimistic view of untruthfulness. Because as said in the beginning of this blog entry the media is inevitable and influences our lives with out us noticing or wanting it. The question that needs to be asked is, is this influence good or bad? And how can we deal with it?

What fascinated me most about this reading was the adaptability of these cultural theories to my research paper, which will focus on how women are represented in the media in effect defending the statement ‘Mass and new media have had powerful effects on the opinions and behaviors of the public’ The media today has a large impact on the way women want to portray themselves, whether it be through magazine ads, commercials, diet books, fashion shows and many more. The media is known to portray a distorted view of todays women, they are portrayed as objects of sexual desire, stereotypical housewives ect. The media tells us who we are and who we want to be in society. Applying cultural studies theories as well as Political economy Theories to this controversial issue is complex, would however both suit and generate both a quantitative and qualitative amount of statistics and information for further development in the light of the statement ‘Mass and new media have had powerful effects on the opinions and behaviors of the public’.

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