Tag Archives: social media

Blog Essay Class 12 (last one!)

Re: The mediatization of society – This article brought full circle everything we’ve learned about in this course. One of the main points was to illustrate how media affects and permeates everything we do culturally and as a society. The media (and discussions of various aspects of the media) are ubiquitous. That is what Dr. Rodgers’ Tumblr page is trying to show us – that an article from The New York Times, The Guardian or The Atlantic and an article from TMZ, Jezebel and Yahoo! Shine can all discuss the media, and these media outlets run the gamut in terms of their perceived “credibility,” journalistic training, content, et cetera. On the first day of class, Dr. Rodgers said his goal for us as students was to learn to become “aware” of the media. Much of this awareness is contingent upon our knowledge of and ability to see just how connected the media is to everything we do, consume, see, hear, listen to, purchase — the list goes on and on. It is through this awareness that we can then apply a critical lens with which to subsequently critique and analyze the media.

The article goes on to discuss how mediatization influences political processes, which I found interesting. Politicians are keenly aware of how powerful the media can be and thus use it to their advantage when running a political campaign. Perhaps one of the most effective use of media (social media sites) in a political campaign is Barack Obama in the 2008 election. According to Politico, Obama is “master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.” It is through these “manipulations” that a political figure it constructed and his image is iterated to the public.

I was particularly interested in the article’s discussion of consumerism. “Jansson (2002) takes his starting point in the general mediatization of contemporary culture, which he describes as “the process through which mediated cultural products have gained importance as cultural referents and hence contribute to the development and maintenance of cultural communities” (p. 108). In what ways do you think that mediatization has influenced your consumerism/purchases? For me, I think advertising has framed certain brand names and products as salient and desirable and it definitely has an influence on me. I know as someone studying the field of media, I should be impervious to catchy advertisements, but I fully admit that I am far from that. The truth is that certain products have been presented as necessary or “cool” (which reminds me of the Merchants of Cool article we read earlier in the semester). Trends influence our purchasing power and the impetus of it all is mass media – which dictates what is “in” and what is “out.” One of the advertising professors here told me that “aspirational images” are what sells products – so for example, in order to most effectively market a new type of fitness shoe, it would be best to show a couple exercising together to get fit.

Re: Ch 20 – This chapter discussed the future of the news industry. I found it the discussion about the decline of news media and how people confuse that with journalism (p. 366). It, again, goes back to something we learned early on in the semester – that journalism and media are not the same thing, or as the books say, “not synonymous.” (Dr. Rodgers says there are no synonyms anyway). Regardless, I agree. Just because print media is declining, it doesn’t mean journalism is too. Journalism is “an activity” (p. 366). It’s akin to saying that writing/reading is going downhill because people aren’t purchasing hard copies of books anymore. The advent of reading devices like Kindles, Nooks and iPads doesn’t make reading any less of a hobby for people. What do you think is the future of media? Where do we go from here? I think that the future is full of possibility. We shouldn’t view the field of communications in a state of decline because as we learned early on in this class, communications is like the “water”, and thus cannot be divorced as it is one of the most mundane and commonplace of human interactions. It is the basis for society in many ways. We will just have to be adaptable to accept the new platforms by which media will be disseminated.

DQ:

-What do you think is the future of media? Where do we go from here?

Analyze This 8

Can we equate the coffee shop discussions of 18th-century England that Habermas says was the ground for a public sphere to the virtual discussion platforms on the internet?

I definitely think so, as the principle is the same: to share ideas and trade them amongst those individuals involved. Habermas’ “public sphere” is the notion that a group of private people can band together to form a “public.” Politically, this sphere inspires critical debate to take place among the particular society it is present in.

Since dawn of the digital age and the advent of the internet, communications has been revolutionized, as people aren’t just limited to coffee shops, salons, the Tree of Cracow or town squares–debate and rational exchange can take place online. Discourse communities are formed online where people who have a certain interest, ideology, outlook, opinion, hobby, etc. can form sub-cultures and exchange ideas via the internet. Social media sites have been paramount in creating a place and a space for these conversations to take place online, in addition to accelerating this discourse. When discussing the power of social media for social activism, Malcolm Gladwell introduces Granovetter’s theory of weak and strong ties, which says that people can influence each other and both strong and weak ties hold society together. It’s these interpersonal ties that foster valuable discourse and exchange of ideas, especially online. According to Granovetter, there is strength in weak ties – they are our source of information and new ideas. Granovetter’s research has shown that a bunch of very strong ties isn’t always the best for inspiring new communication. According to him, “‘sociability is a routinized gathering of a relatively unchanging peer group of family members and friends that takes place several times a week.'”

“Granovetter then goes on to imagine how such a density of strong ties (but relative paucity of weak ones) might inhibit social activism” (Lehrer, 2010). On the internet, availability of both strong and weak ties is more pronounced. On social media sites, you have your close friends and your acquaintances. In the coffee shop, these weak ties may not be as available, because you might just be meeting with your “usual” group of friends or associates.

It’s important to note that in 18th century England, elite members of society went to coffee shops. Today, anyone who has an internet connection can have an online presence.

(great article on Wired talks more about this)

Analyze This 6

Connect 18th century media to 21st century media…

Media in the 18th century was categorized by political speech. Particularly in 18th century France, political “gossip” was the order of the day, and citizens didn’t get it from newspapers. Instead, they heard most of their news from street songs that were updated and created as new events took place. Parisian street singers sang their songs to instruments like fiddles. I guess musicals such as Les Miserables (not 18th century, but still relevant) weren’t so far off in their depiction of France and how music could literally bring down a regime (as illustrated by the song that brought down the Maurepas ministry: “Par vos façons nobles et franches”). Politics were heavily integrated with music, almost like a cabaret. “The subject of the songs ranged from military operations to sex scandals and political schemes. One tune celebrated a French battle victory in the War of Austrian Secession; another lamented the taxes imposed after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Mme de Pompadour, the famous mistress of Louis XV, was an especially popular subject in many of the satirical songs.” – Emily Simon

Media in the 21st century is categorized by new media integration. Various platforms are available in an almost endless capacity to help people learn about different things and to do different things. In my opinion, it is all about personalization. Our Twitter pages can be personalized with a background photo of us, our blogs can be about anything we like–cooking, horseback riding, comic books, for example. It’s heavily focused on creation and personalized content with sites like Polyvore, where you can create fashion trends in a community of sorts. This is something I am interested in, and I’m sure there’s some “community” to meet every need online.

Information is also more readily available and accessible than ever before. Google has revolutionized the way we think, research and obtain virtually every type of information, ranging from how to prepare a cornish hen to how to properly tie a tie.

I think it’s interesting to note that we still have an affinity for songs about politics and change, as evidenced by the popularity of Les Miserables just recently. We don’t have musicians standing on the corner singing, but gossip is still very important to us today– sites like TMZ and celebrity magazines are very popular. Thus, these two media forms are connected by the fact that scandal is still heavily a part of our society. Celebrity culture is arguably more important than ever and the new media forms I’ve mentioned can be faster ways to disseminate this information on a large public scale. We are still very concerned with political scandals such as when politicians cheat on their wives or are unethical, so that is a definite similarity to 18th century media.

Analyze This 4

  1. What is the Gladwell dispute? Agree/disagree and why?

– The point that Malcolm Gladwell was trying to make with his article in the New Yorker about social media activism is that we give too much credit to SNS for promoting societal/cultural change. This is exemplified by the quote included in the article that said Twitter should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. I disagree with this sentiment, because people make revolutions happen, technology just serves as an impetus or promotional tool to aid their fight. He argues that social change can and WILL happen irrespective of these new technological advances. I agree with this point. I believe that in some ways he establishes himself as a technological purist in this article, but not to the extent he is made out to be by those who oppose him, especially Cheyfitz.

I can’t agree with the phrase “the revolution will not be tweeted.” Because it will be tweeted and Facebooked and Instagrammed and otherwise documented forever. SNS can be great tools for community organization and logistical setting up of protests, events, marches, etc. However, they do not replace real-life community involvement. Clicking “Like” on an anti-abortion Facebook page or retweeting something that supports the current Turkish protest movement, for example, is not the same as physically being there. It does bring awareness to this issue, though. Increased awareness is always a good thing, because it keeps people up to date on the latest global happenings

  1. What early media systems helped establish democracy/government system in the U.S.?

– Penny presses helped support governmental endeavors because they would promote the ideologies and views of a certain group in their newspaper. This gave a platform and a voice for certain factions and served as a literary “meeting place” for people who shared that view to gather and read some literature relating to their political stance. It showcased a cornerstone of our Constitution, the First Amendment. It gave a tangible voice (in the form of a physical newspaper) to various political groups.

Blog Essay Class 7

Re: the Rampton article – This article discussed propaganda and how it has changed over time, especially since Chomsky and Herman’s book. When talking about the Iraq War, it’s important to note something Rampton and Stauber pointed out—that discussing the deaths and the fallen soldiers was treated in a “sanitized, minimal way.” The photo of the emaciated POW was very moving. The author was right—you really don’t see those kinds of photos widely published anymore. In fact, I would argue you almost NEVER see them, especially not in mainstream media such as CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. The only time I have ever seen anything like that is on Al-Jazeera, which my parents get via satellite to their home. Regardless, that news platform is not easily accessible to me—I can only view it when I go home. Thus, my choices are very limited if I want to obtain a less “sanitized view” of the war. Why do you think we want to turn a blind eye to the Iraqi death toll? I think it’s a deep-rooted cultural designation—Americans are uncomfortable with facing reality. Whenever I watch the Al-Jazeera channel via satellite, they show more truthful and realistic portrayals of global happenings and especially war/death. The Arab version of Al-Jazeera is rawer than its English counterpart.

It’s a well-known colloquialism that the Vietnam War was widely referred to as “the first televised war.” (This article discusses it in more depth, FYI). President Johnson was quoted as saying, “…I thought of the many times each week when television brings the war into the American home. No one can say exactly what effect those vivid scenes have on American opinion.” I think this sentiment is very much true, if not truer, today. But it has gone beyond traditional mass media formats, such as television and radio—and spilled over into social media. It goes back to the idea from last week’s readings, that everyone can be a maker of the news due to wide accessibilities to various platforms such as blogs and social media that encourage citizen journalism and direct participation. People are free and able to state their opinions about the war or government on their personal websites or Facebook pages, and many do (much to the chagrin of others, especially those on the opposite side of the political spectrum as the person posting the message).

Re: Gladwell’s piece in The New Yorker – I am already very familiar with Malcolm Gladwell and I have read all of his books. I think the way he blends social science research, journalistic techniques and phenomenology is very unique. I think we can all agree with his most basic point, that “new tools of social media have reinvented social activism.” It’s great that social media can help revolutionize the world, but it isn’t always successful. He brings up Iran’s “Green Revolution,” but the problem is that it failed. (“Without Twitter the people of Iran would not have felt empowered and confident to stand up for freedom and democracy,” Mark Pfeifle, a former national-security adviser, later wrote, calling for Twitter to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.) The truth is, social media doesn’t make the impact, WE do. It is simply an impetus or vehicle for inspiring change. I am very glad Gladwell included the quote from Esfandiari, because she’s right. I think it would be interesting to interview people in the Middle East who participated in the “Arab Spring” movement to see how they were feeling when they were tweeting and how they think things have changed or not changed since that time. I am not arguing that Twitter can’t be an amazing piece of technology, but I am arguing that we give it too much credit. If people are truly unsatisfied with something, they’ll find some mode of publicizing that, whether it is simply to stand on a street corner and shout. Gladwell echoes this sentiment, as he employs an introductory discussion/mention of Granovetter’s weak vs. strong ties argument. He’s essentially arguing that social media activism is the lazy man’s activism, and markedly different from “real life” activism of the 1960s which required people to get up and get involved. We can see this in our everyday life—every year, I participate in the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer walk. I fundraise. The preferred (read: easiest) mode of fundraising is to send emails to friends, family, associates, etc. This past October I raised more than $800 with little effort because people are more apt to type their credit card number into a website than to reach into their pocket for some cash. Literally. It’s the same concept that drives our laziness to opt for pizza delivery than to save the extra cash by picking it up at the store. It’s the feeling that websites like Amazon bank from.

There were two articles that responded to Gladwell’s piece. The article by Cheyfritz asks the question: does media matter? Yes, of course it does. But as much as Cheyfritz says Gladwell is missing the point, I think Cheyfritz himself is too. The article by Melber on NPR’s site includes a quote from Gladwell’s follow-up piece that reads: “People with a grievance will always find ways to communicate with each other. How they choose to do it is less interesting, in the end, than why they were driven to do it in the first place.” I agree with this, as I previously stated and provided an example. Social media is good, as it provides just another platform or outlet for people’s thoughts, feelings, opinions. I don’t fully agree with any of these articles, whether it be Gladwell’s, Cheyfritz or Melber’s. I think they are all in essential agreement with each other by are tearing each other down in a really snarky way (especially Cheyfritz) on small points. Media does matter. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool. But social media is overrated and is being viewed as the end all be all of activism. It’s not.

Re: Shirky’s article – The opening anecdote illustrates how text messages can be useful in inciting an actual revolution, and I think these arguments can be made for both sides (citing the usefulness and then citing the uselessness of social media for activism). But Shirky makes a great qualifying point: “The use of social media tools-text messaging, e-mail, photo sharing, social networking, and the like-does not have a single preordained outcome. Therefore, attempts to outline their effects on political action are too often reduced to dueling anecdotes,” and this is exactly what I was thinking before I even read that part. When the article discussed Hillary Clinton and how participatory new media can increase freedoms, for some reason the first thing I thought of was the meme website Texts from Hillary Clinton.

The bulk of the readings focused on social media such as email, texts, photos, tweets, messages, etc. but what about memes? Can online memes be an impetus for social change?

DQs:

–       How do you think social media has impacted (or not impacted) the citizens’ response to the Iraq War? Do you think we are more or less apathetic than ever?

–       Why do you think we want to turn a blind eye to the Iraqi death toll?

–       What do you think of Mark Pfeifle’s comment in the New Yorker article by Gladwell (“Twitter should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize”)?

–       Do you think social media activism is motivated by laziness? If not, what do you think it is motivated by?

–       Can online memes be an impetus for social change?

Nicki Karimipour, nickik1989@ufl.edu