Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Comment Section

Word Count: 692

If you're ever feeling like humanity hasn't let you down, just head over to any comment section and your lack of faith will be restored. For this particular assignment I looked around a few different news sights until I found an article with comments. The website was "MSN News" and the article (which had been posted 5 hours prior) had a drop down comment section where about 21 people had responded. Immediately you could see that people had resorted to flaming, one slight disagreement and comments like "are you stuck on stupid?" and "ur a PHUKTARD" emerged. There's no attempt to understand the statement that was made, or even to argue against the statement in any intelligent way. It's just, "you said something I found disagreeable and are therefore an idiot..." One commentator even told the person he disagreed with to "stay in the mountains where you belong becuase you clearly don't know what you're talking about" (notice the ironic typo--these are direct quotes--you'd think if you were going to insult someones intelligence online you'd at least use spell check).

It doesn't even matter what the argument is or what the other person said, because none of these people are actually trying to counter that argument. You could go to a comment section and type in "I love cheese" and people would call you an idiot, or tell you to "go back to the mountains where you belong..." I honestly think a lot of these people get off on the drama of it, on being a bully. I mean, if you truly disagreed, wouldn't you try and make an intellectual argument as to why the person was mistaken--rather then immediately jumping onto the you're an idiot bandwagon?

I found that sometimes people responded to these "attacks" with similar tactics, and but most of the time these negative comments were ignored. I didn't find anyone having an actual productive argument--but then again I think it is extremely rare for the comment section to actually provide anything of value to the reader. Perhaps once in a blue moon you'll find an informative comment, but most of the time, the comment section of any article, or photograph, or video, is filled with praise, junk, or hate speech (and I think its mostly the latter).

I also noticed that the nicer and more docile comments received fewer responses, for example, this article was about the death of a politician, one person remarked this:

this was the heinous murder of one of the nicest female politicians,wife,mother,daughter and friend to all...gun crimes are a rarity in Birstall,West sad."

She received six "likes", one reply, and zero arguments. Compared to the comment I was referencing above which stated: 

"Shooting and stabbing an unarmed woman. What a big brave Nazi. Bunch of cowardly wussies. Thats whey they all have to group together to feel powerful.." this comment has 14 likes, and 14 replies, most of which are "flaming" comments. 

They are both basically saying the same thing, that it's sad that this woman died, yet one is filled with angry comments and the other isn't. The second comment seems a bit more provocative than the first, and received negative attention because people started talking about whether or not this was a hate crime. Yet again, no productive argument is made, it's just people disagreeing and calling each other stupid. So again, what's the point? I mostly try to avoid the public comment section on something whenever necessary, and I only respond to something when deeply provoked. Even then, I try to only comment when I actually have something productive to say, or have a real argument to make, one that is backed up by facts or figures.

Click here for the news article that I was referring to...

However, there are some comment sections that are simply filled with joy, and that is mostly any comment section that has to do with dogs ^.^ For example, Doug The Pug's Facebook is filled with likes, and hearts, and cute photos of other dogs. So I don't mind reading those!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Word Count: 893

This week we are supposed to pick a specific media story that relates to cyber bullying or internet abuse and address how the user could have avoided the events. The purpose is for us to demonstrate what we've learned about internet safety and effective online communication. I have chosen no one specific instance of cyber bullying to share or address, because I feel that doing so would be to shame a bullying victim--this is a very sensitive topic for me and many of these cyber bullying cases end in the death of young children and teens. There's no point in telling these victims how they could have handled the situation differently, that would only be cruel and unfair, because bullying is never the victims fault.

Instead I'd like to share with you the names of a few of these victims, and in their honor I'd like to discuss the steps that you should take if you ever find yourself under attack online.

May they rest in peace:

Amanda Todd--Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 15
Hannah Smith--Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 14
Jessica Laney--Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 16
Megan Meier-Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 13
Audrie Pott--Raped and Cyber Bullied--Committed Suicide at age 15

Ryan Halligan--Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 14
Joshua Unsworth--Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 15
Daniel Perry --Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 17
Ronan Hughes--Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 17
Tyler Clementi--Cyber Bullying Victim--Committed Suicide at age 18

I share these names with you today, to help bring awareness to the subject of cyber bullying. It knows no age range, no gender, no distance. Each of these teens has their own tragic story, they were harassed, bullied, blackmailed, sometimes assaulted and one victim was raped while unconscious. Their privacy was violated, they were stalked, they were mentally tortured and this has and is happening all over the world. Almost all of these victims had people online telling them they should commit suicide. This is the darker side of the internet, the deplorable side of humanity. One of the worst side effects of media on behavior is the mass desensitization towards violence.  It was not their fault, it will never be their fault, but if you should ever find yourself in such a horrible situation: there are steps you can take.

1) Remember that this is not your fault, and you are not alone.

No matter the reason, bullying is not your fault, and those people are lying to you. Remember that. Also remember you aren't alone, millions of people have been the victims of online bullying. Bullys don't care who they pick on.

2) Ask for help

If you're feeling overwhelmed and you can't figure out what to do next--then ask for help. There are a number of different places you can go. A child should seek the help of an adult figure in charge, someone whom they can trust, a parent, a teacher, a principle, doctor, therapist, etc. AND if someone asks you for help with bullying, take it seriously.

3) Follow these 6 steps to get the bullys out of your life.
  • Take threats seriously, if you do happen to see the threats and abuse towards you online, screen shot it--this can help you later when you ask for help. It can also be used as evidence in a court case, say if you need a restraining order for example.  However, remember that you don't have to see these messages, don't obsess over them, and once you have your evidence ignore the rest. Do no re-read hurtful, angry, mean, or abusive messages. Remember--its not your fault. These people do not define you.
  • Make sure all of your social media sites (including your emails) are private and strongly password protected.
  • Delete any and all offenders from your friend and contact lists. Report them to the sites administrators. Block them. 
  • If things don't get better--deactivate your account--I know it's hard to believe but you'll be OK. If you really need a social media account to communicate with close family and friends you can make a new, private profile with a pseudo name and only add those closest to you. 
  • Get a new phone number if necessary, its not as hard as you think it is. 
  • Don't respond to negative messages, in fact, if you can, once you have your evidence, don't even read them. Delete them right away--and don't retaliate. You don't need to stoop to their level.
If you know someone, or you think you know someone who is being bullied--online or otherwise, please reach out. Let them know they are not alone, and that there is something that can be done. 

Lastly, remember what you do and what you say online has real life consequences--not just for yourself but for those with whom you communicate. Never. Ever. Tell someone they should kill themselves, or that the world would be a better place without them--because if you're the reason why they do, if you're the last straw, you've basically just become an accessory to murder. Always remember to be kind, remember the golden rule, and remember to think before you post.


Goad, Jim. "15 Teen Bullying Cases With Tragic Ends." Thought Catalog. April 22, 2015. Accessed November 01, 2016.

"Stories of 7 Teen Suicides Because of Bullying." CyberBullying Resources. August 2016. Accessed November 01, 2016.

"The Top Six Unforgettable CyberBullying Cases Ever | NoBullying - Bullying & CyberBullying Resources." NoBullying. October 19, 2016. Accessed November 01, 2016.

"Tips to Help Stop Cyberbullying." ConnectSafely. December 6, 2013. Accessed November 01, 2016.
"Tyler Clementi 1992-2010." Pure Sight Online Child Safety. Accessed November 01, 2016.
Reporter, Telegraph. "Online Trick 'led to Teenage Boy's Suicide'" The Telegraph. June 08, 2015. Accessed November 01, 2016.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Word Count: 916

Never has a line rung more true:
"Here's what the "post-fact" literature has right: the Internet allows us to see what other people actually think. This has turned out to be a huge disappointment"

Boy, has it. I can't tell you the number of times I've felt disappointed by the statements, posts, videos or opinions that were expressed by friends, family members, or just the human race in general, online. The internet has become a place full of opinions, and it seems like the majority of internet users aren't afraid to tell people what they think online. There's a sort of safety in posting your opinion online, a sort of anonymity, you could post your opinion and ignore everyone else's response to it if you wanted to. You can argue away without really caring about what the other person thinks, or feels, because you're both hidden behind this emotionless screen.

Still, the internet isn't a bad place, what we have to realize is that these people thought these things before the internet, and if the internet were to suddenly disappear over night they'd still think them tomorrow--and we can't really label something like the internet as good or bad, because it's going to be as good or as bad as we make it. It's not a living, breathing, conscious entity, and seeing as the internet is immeasurably vast, it doesn't even reflect the human race as a whole because the parts of it that we view are minuscule compared to how much of it there actually is.

Sometimes certain websites, such as Reddit, help the public to discover the truth--other times they muddy the issue. There is no back and white answer here, the internet is a tool and the outcome of its use depends on the user. In this day and age, you could probably find everything you need to know online about astrophysics, you could probably also find a website that teaches you about aliens living on mars and theories about how the human race is actually just a sims game inside someone's mind.

The comment sections on news and media sites are particularly interesting, because you see such a great mix of this--truth, fiction, emotion, stupidity, entertainment, all wrapped up in one place. A recent personal example of this comes from an online argument I ended up jumping into. Something I generally try to avoid, but I couldn't help myself this time, for a couple of different reasons. Here's the story in short:

The website: Facebook
The Post: An article about why people cheat, shared by George Takei,
The comment: A recently divorced friend of mine made a comment stating that "people cheat because they are selfish pieces of ****"
The argument: That people cheat because it's in their nature...yeah, I know...this would have been an easy enough argument for me to avoid if the person making this argument hadn't 1) insulted my friend, insinuating that she only makes such statements because shes' bitter blah, blah, blah and 2) they hadn't tried to use anthropology to defend their point.

You see, I'm an anthropologist, or at least, I'm studying to be an anthropologist and I'm in my final year. The example they used to support their argument was an article about the !Kung in Africa--they were trying to state that because having multiple partners is normal in some cultures that cheating is ok. My counter argument (again, in two points): 1) Anthropology is the study of human kind, our aim is not to defend certain behaviors, but to try and understand them. 2) Just because having multiple partners is ok in one culture, doesn't mean that its ok to cheat in another culture. When people have certain agreements in their relationship, and when those agreements are broken, it's wrong, and it's selfish. The En. This goes for people all around the world. Not to mention the fact that an argument stating that something that happens universally across cultures = that something being ok, doesn't even make sense.  Murder also happens universally across cultures, it's still bad.

I ended up blocking the bloke trying to make this 'cheating is ok' argument because he seemed unintelligent (sorrynotsorry?), and was extremely rude and had started to revert to name calling. So like I said, one of the great things about arguing with people online--don't want to hear their rebuttal? you're one click away from never having to see them again (hopefully)--but then something unexpected happened. People actually thanked me for writing "something intelligent in the comment section." One person said it was the first time they actually learned something from the comment section (my defense/explanation of anthropology was a bit more detailed then what I've posted here), and I thought that was really nice of them. I've had things like that happen to me before too. It's rare, but occasionally when I go to the comment section to find out more, I actually do learn something.

In the end, the internet is a great big mix of things, its a big ol' mashup of truth, lies, intelligence and stupidity. The best thing to do, is to make sure people understand that they shouldn't believe everything they read (online or otherwise) and to simply fact check before posting or reposting anything of importance.

This seems like the best way for us to avoid catching the gullibility virus...
...but let's be real, sometimes gullibility is just plain funny.

Articles Cited

Shirky, Clay. "Shirky: ‘We Are Indeed Less Willing to Agree on What Constitutes Truth’." Poynter. N.p., 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 26 Oct. 2016. 

JediHawk. "Warning, Caution, Danger, and Beware! Gullibility Virus Spreading over the Internet!" Michael's Funnies Page, n.d. Web.

All Images Courtesy of Google Search ^.^

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Online Relationships

Word Count: 430

"Social information processing theory claims that whether you’re communicating face to face or online, you can communicate the same degree of personal involvement and develop similar close relationships. What do you think of this theory?"

The more technology advances the easier it is to make, and keep, online relationships. Whether these are friendships, business associates, or romantic relationships, the advent of various forms of online communication has made it easier to keep in touch. It seems to me that you could find somewhere new to connect with someone online almost everyday; there are literally hundreds of places where one can bond with a complete stranger over similar interests:  Facebook Groups, Blogs, Twitter, Tumblr, PostSecret, etc.

So in short, yes I do think it is possible with today's modern technology to develop and nurture relationships with the same degree of personal involvement as if you were communicating face to face. World wide video calling is available on your cell phone with numerous applications, you can constantly text, or chat with someone, and then skype or video call. You can share links to funny videos, or photographs, or interact together in a virtual reality world or MMORPG (for the non gamer that is: Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). 

I honestly think that people in my generation started having online friendships at a pretty young age, my first online "best friend" was a girl I'd met through "Bebo" a social networking site that was launched in 2005.  I then remember diving into the world of online chat rooms, and MySpace. These sites have now been largely replaced by FaceBook, Instagram, and Twitter but the implications are the same. All of these online communities are a long time in the making and have been adapting and changing for a better "user friendly" experience ever since they were created.

However, that doesn't mean that one shouldn't be careful with who they communicate with online. It's all too easy for someone to create a fake online identity and many have been left heart broken when they realized their romantic online relationship wasn't real. In fact, there's an entire movie and subsequent TV show based on this preface that I'm sure you've heard of, here's the trailer for the 2010 Documentary, Catfish:

While social media and online communication can be a great tool to connect with others, to travel, to even learn about different cultures or people around the world internet safety should always be taken into account. It's also important to remember that online actions can have real life reactions, so treat people with respect.

----End of Original Post---

Word Count: 271
This is just something I'd like to add, something I hadn't thought of while writing my original blog post, but that came to me after reading everyone else's. I'm adding this addendum to my original post not to affect my grade, but because I think this is an extremely important part of online communication that is often overlooked.  Online communication is a godsend for people with mental, and sometimes physical disabilities. As someone who has constant anxiety and issues with verbal communication I find communicating online 10 x easier than communicating in person. I wish that there were even more ways to avoid phone calls--websites with 24/7 online chat support? Yes please! Ordering your food online? You betcha, and the only downfall to online shopping is that you can't normally try things on before buying them. I find I can better express my thoughts and opinions online as well, which then in turn makes me feel that I am better heard online. It can make me feel like my voice matters.  There are very few people I can talk to with ease in real life, and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. A great example of the benefits of online communication is "Carly's Voice." Carly is a young autistic lady who is unable to speak verbally, for the longest time her parents' had zero indication of Carly's mental or physical state from Carly herself--and it was through modern day technology and online communication that she was finally able to express herself. Please check out this YouTube video about Cary's book, entitled "Carly's Voice."

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Word Count: 620

How much of what you post online is really safe? And how many of your Facebook friends, are actually friends that you know and trust?

These are very real, very important questions you might want to start asking yourself. As a teenager I didn't fully understand the issues of 'internet safety...' I mean, that was so uncool, right? but what we choose to share online can have very serious real world consequences. I don't mean losing a date because someone saw an embarrassing photo of you on that one night you drank to much, or even losing your job because of said photo--I'm talking about being stalked, robbed, kidnapped or worse...I know. I know. You think I'm being overly dramatic but that is the unfortunate reality of the situation. Online, people tend to have a false sense of security, they might say or do things they wouldn't normally say or do in person On the other hand we might find our actions online completely mundane, what's the harm in posting a controversial opinion or two. Why not share a photo of your kid, or your niece/nephew on the first day of kindergarten? Well, for starters, that controversial opinion could get you fired, banned from certain places, or in some cases, even arrested and that photograph you posted could end up in the hands of any number of unsavory characters. Lets not forget that posting too much online could also lead to identity theft, blackmail, or fraud. Don't want to take my word for it? Check this link out!

Many of us are over sharing, or posting photos in the wrong groups, without thinking of the consequences. We forget that practically anyone, and everyone in the world has access to the Internet. So think before you post, take the time to check your privacy settings and never post someone's photo (or a photo of their child) without their permission.

Last but not least, I'm begging all of the parents out there to check their children's phones! So many applications will automatically track their location and practically anyone can view this information! Personally, I never add anyone on Facebook who I don't know, and all of my profile and photographs are set to private. I only tag people in my photos if I know that their Facebook is equally private because don't forget that once you tag someone, their friends can see the photo too. I also don't post specifics about my location, like my address, or phone number, if I'm going out of town, or what valuables I may or may not have in the home. For even the most basic hackers your private Facebook can become an open book, so don't post anything so sensitive you wouldn't want the general public to know it.

To end things on a less serious note, this week in our Communicating Online class at Oregon State University we discussed the issues of how disclosure differs online. When we are speaking with someone face-to-face we can better understand their meaning through tone of voice, and other important non-verbal gestures. When communicating solely through text, we sometimes have to guess at the others meaning without these additional clues. This can lead to instances of miscommunication...and one such funny instance of miscommunication was demonstrated by Key & Peele in this Comedy Central YouTube clip that I'd like to share with you all below. I'd say this clip is somewhere between PG13 and Rated R for adult language and content, but overall, its still pretty funny: Key & Peele - Text Message Confusion - Uncensored

Alright, that's all for now, have a great day!