Monthly Archives: February 2018

5 Mindful Ways to Save Money on Buying Food

Okay, let’s be honest. No matter how hard you try to meal prep or bring food from home, it’s sometimes not satisfying enough or you’re still craving for more. I bring food sometimes, but other times I buy food; it’s all about the balance. No matter the reason, we eat out and that’s okay. Here are 5 little things you can keep in mind next time you go out for food:

 

1. Skip the Drink(s)

Try to opt for water because it’s free and good for you. Also, it adds up; but don’t be afraid to order that one drink once in a while though.

 

 

2. Keep Tips in Mind

If you’re at a sit-down restaurant, don’t forget to tip! It’s good to always add extra dollars/percentages when browsing the menu. Then, when you order your food, you will be fully aware of how much you will be spending.

 

3. Bring Food

I’ve yet to perfect the art of meal prepping, so I try to bring as many snacks or leftovers as I can with me. If I have a short class day, then I bring some snacks with me and wait until I come home to eat. If I have longer days, I’ll bring extra snacks and eat them throughout the day. However, if you’re not satisfied with that, try purchasing foods that are priced on the lower end (or something small aka something cheap). Then you won’t have to spend as much AND still satisfy your cravings.

4. Limit your Treats

Spending smart requires awareness. A way to limit yourself on overspending is to think, “well, I just bought ice cream a few days ago, I’ll skip this time”, or “I decided to not buy that frappuccino last week, I think I’ll treat myself today”. Another way to approach this is to limit ‘treats’ for celebrations such as finishing a midterm or overcoming an obstacle.

5. Plan Ahead

If your income for the upcoming week(s) isn’t looking too good, try to not eat out (or maybe just something small one day out of the week), but if it’s a thick paycheque, enjoy those cravings (or save your money!).

Posting From Left to Right: Idealogistic Echo Chamber’s

The public sphere is a social space in which member’s come together in a collective manner to which the member’s discuss societal problems and through conversation’s, the member’s will influence political action (Habermas & Baker, 1991). In the digital age of today, the notion of the public sphere finds itself outside the realms of a coffee shop but rather on Web 2.0. Web 2.0 can be identified as a publishing platform where audience members are also the creator’s of not only content, but also public opinion. Users of the internet have more exposure to political discussion and confrontations than anyone has in previous area’s. Web 2.0 is there to serve its users and their needs and now the internet has contributed to a heterogeneity to people’s political views. Jennifer Brundidge quotes:

this increased exposure is due to the fact that the Internet facilitates people’s inadvertent exposure to political difference, even if they are unlikely to seek out such political difference on their own. This exposure is facilitated through “(a) less than perfect online selective exposure strategies, (b) non-avoidance of encounters with political difference, and (c) weakened social boundaries between far flung geographic locations, between one discursive space and the next (blurred and porous boundaries creating increased interspatiality), between political and apolitical spaces of communication, and between the private and the public spheres” (Brundidge, 2010)

The digitization of the public sphere has lead to idea of echo chambers within our news feeds on social media. As Web 2.0 caters to our needs, we see our beliefs amplified and reinforced into a closed system on our social media feeds. Political discussion from the other side of the spectrum becomes polarized as we live in the comforts of our beliefs. The idea of the public sphere has evolved into the concept of echo chamber’s, albeit,  user’s must now find a way to divert from the polarization and to discussing to members of the both sides of the spectrum in order to have political action take place.

The challenge of the internet technologies and its platforms is that it is a total new means of communication rather than being the common mass medium that is transmitting the same message across a mass audience (Gordon, 2010). Through the confines of Web 2.0, users of social media can be the transmitters of any message they want, all with different interpreted meanings and available to whoever want’s to look for it. The purpose of the public sphere is getting lost in the myriad of messages that are open to whomever wants access. Political discourse starts to develop biases as these messages sort themselves in a certain algorithm that correlates with the user’s beliefs. Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign sparked international controversy and had citizens of all different countries joining into this conversation in the political sphere (Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016, 2016). His campaign marked an intense partisan division between The Republican’s and the Democratic’s, albeit, social media has became a filtering agent in which it filter’s  opposing opinion’s from accessing their streams (Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016, 2016). Pew Research Centre states that the echo chamber effect does not have the intentions of blocking opposing opinions but rather has developed in reaction with a negative political climate and reduce the chances confrontation from opposing sides of the spectrum (Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016, 2016).

Social media prides itself on being interconnected and one of key factors of social media is open dialogue. For anyone with an interest in politics, social media is the perfect realm in which dialogue is considered and has made itself the centre of the public sphere. Dr. Grant Blake quotes:

Whatever the causes of political polarization today, it is not social media or the internet. If anything, most people use the internet to broaden their media horizons. We found evidence that people actively look to confirm the information that they read online, in a multitude of ways. They mainly do this by using a search engine to find offline media and validate political information. Internet users associate with people and institutions that reassemble their own views which limits the possibilities of being exposed to competing views and perspectives (Social media and internet not cause of political polarization, new research suggests”, 2018)

Natalie Stroud suggests the idea of selective exposure in which “people are more like to select media outlets sharing their political predisposition’s.” (Stroud, 2010). The idea of the internet echo chamber comes from two different perspectives. The more pessimistic view is that the internet can intensify self exposure, thus creating the echo chamber where users are hearing and sharing the same opinions (Tandoc & Maitra, 2017). The more optimistic view is that users who have more control over their media consumption do have an incase cage of consuming opinion-reinforcing messages but their exposure to oppositional opinions does not drop (Stroud ,2010). Stroud quotes “‘Liberal Democrats consuming more liberal media outlets held more polarized attitudes relative to other liberal Democrats’, and the same held true for conservative Republicans” (Stroud, 2010). Audiences who identified as conservative found themselves to be participants in which they wanted their beliefs protected from counter persuasion and that became the focus of the conservative media, this is found to be true for Liberal audiences as well (Jamieson & Cappella, 2010). Both Conservative and Liberal media outlets borrowed stories that would reinforce their beliefs that were reflected back to the audiences (Jamieson & Cappella, 2010).

Jurgen Habermas’s notion of the public sphere has found itself detached from the concept as the largest stage where political discourse can take place as been divided into echo chambers for the right and the left. With the rise of Web 2.0, certain algorithm’s cater ones beliefs and users find themselves in a continuous loop as they find themselves as viewers of information that has already been sorted out for them. Signs of a healthy democratic society are found at the heart of political discourse that involves all opinions in order to take the right course to political action. With the echo chamber effect of the internet causing partisanship between the left and the right, the world will always be stuck in turmoil and find itself in the centre of a unhealthy political climate in which no one wants to participate in. Social media algorithms need to be removed in order for users to want to access opinions of beliefs from the other side, rather than reinforcing their exiting biases.

References

Brundidge, J. (2010). Encountering “Difference” in the Contemporary Public Sphere: The Contribution of the Internet to the Heterogeneity of Political Discussion Networks. Journal Of Communication60(4), 680-700. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2010.01509.x

Habermas, J., & Baker, T. (1991). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. MIT Press.

Jamieson, K., & Cappella, J. (2010). Echo chamber. New York: Oxford University Press.

Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016. (2016). Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from http://www.people-press.org/2016/06/22/partisanship-and-political-animosity-in-2016/

Social media and internet not cause of political polarization, new research suggests. (2018). Phys.org. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from https://phys.org/news/2018-02-social-media-internet-political-polarization.html

Stroud, N. (2010). Polarization and Partisan Selective Exposure. Journal Of Communication60(3), 556-576. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2010.01497.x

Tandoc, E., & Maitra, J. (2017). News organizations’ use of Native Videos on Facebook: Tweaking the journalistic field one algorithm change at a time. New Media & Society. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1461444817702398

The In Between

What do you do when you can’t decide between going bold and going soft? Somedays I sit down in front of my makeup collection and I am unsure of exactly what I want. I’m not looking to go with a subtle look, but I also don’t really want to be totally in your face. I want to be the in between. I want to find the delicate balance between calm and loud. Now maybe at first glance you can’t see the balance to which I am referring. A dark blue lip after all, is a pretty loud statement. But when pairing it with a slightly warmer toned eye and face makeup which isn’t overly dramatic, it is not quite the slap in the face some of my looks can create.

I’ve always been instructed not to pair warm and cool toned makeup together in the same look. Believe me, I understand why. They aren’t designed to marry together smoothly. Typically the tones grate on one another and create a harsh look which is not quite right when you look at it. But if you do it just right, sometimes it can work out quite elegantly. The warmer tones in the look are cooled by the cool tones and vice versa.

Take this look for example. The eye look is made up of oranges and golds from my Anastasiia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette. The overall effect is rather sunset like in nature. I intentionally did not go overboard with the pigmentation though, not wanting to overweight the warmth of the look. The face was done with the more neutral colors in my collection. Yes, my contour was still a dark shadow meant to create definition on my face. But I kept the shade as neutral as possible instead of choosing a warmer or cooler one. The same goes for my choice of bronzer. Bronzer by nature will always run warmer because, as the name implies, the whole point is to bronze up the look like a tan. But there is still a wide variety of shade options in the realm of bronzers. I found one which wouldn’t be overly warm in nature and went with that. The same process held true for my highlight as well.

The lip is what took this look from subtle to an in between. It is a cool toned shade and it’s quite aggressive upon first glance. But when pairing it with a look like this, it falls into place shockingly well. The tone warms up a little, and it elevates the look out of a purely subtle realm. It also adds an element of surprise to the look. I never like to do the same thing twice. I enjoy surprising people, both with who I am and with my makeup. This is an expression of complexity, of experimentation, of challenging the norms. Not every challenge has to be aggressive. Some rules you can break by pairing together tones which aren’t supposed to work together. I like to challenge people and the norms they ascribe to me. This look is just another way of doing so.

How do you challenge the norms people place on you? Leave a comment below!

Yours Truly,

Meera C.

 

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ESSAY #1

ESSAY #1

Technological advancements have created a shift from society relying on newspapers and or radio broadcasts to social media in order to attain information about important happenings worldwide. This creates a large sense of competition between social media applications and news companies. With recent improvements, social media has not only become a place to interact with peers, but also a place to acquire public knowledge. However, in order to have a substantial number of readers, there have been various occasions where the information they output in not factual. With social media being such an easy platform for anyone to express their thoughts, readers now must be able to differentiate factual and non-factual information with correct and reliable sources. In this paper, I will discuss the regenerated system of news and how important it is to differentiate true and false information.

With the emergence and revolutions of smartphones and tablets, the world has become accessible at our fingertips. We are able to connect with people across the planet with the push of a button and obtain information regarding anything within seconds. Younger generations now rely on social media and technology to go on with their everyday lives, creating change in not only daily life, but in other aspects such as education, workplaces, personal life, etc.. In the recent study performed in 2011 by Jolie O’Dell, it is found that most readers who read their newspapers online are young, ages 18-29 (O’Dell 2011), however, 38% of adults said that they often get news from digital sources, including news websites or apps and 18% use social networking sites. The use of social media for news is growing because of convenience. With the rise of news applications and other forms of easily obtainable information, the print industry has dramatically decreased. Popular social media sites have seized the opportunity to shape their platforms to integrate a news market. Snapchat, for instance, created a Discover page to display featured stories (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017). As of 2017, 67% of Americans said they got news from social media (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017). Facebook holds the most amount of social media news. Almost half (45%) of adults in the US use Facebook as a news source (Grieco, 2017). Twitter, however, is also making considerable headway, due to the US President’s frequent use of the site. (Shearer & Gottfried, 2016). With multiple social media sources becoming a place for news, some users get news across multiple platforms (Grieco, 2017). Although using multiple sources could be a way of fact-checking news stories, it could also aid in the spread of fake news. When seen across various platforms, the fake news may seem legitimate, in turn escalating briskly.

During the time of the 2016 US presidential election, different news companies shared their information about the election, however, in order to reach a maximum number of readers they needed something out of the ordinary. An example of a fake news story, posted by “The Guardian” was about the “ Democratic senators who wanted to impose sharia in Florida” (Hunt 2016). Sharia being an Islamic canonical law was released by Michael Fylnn and later after sharing this, she tweeted about Democrats’ “sex crimes w children” then, later on, deleted it (Hunt 2016). Following this, there was a false report that stating that Trump supporters were chanting “we hate Muslims, we hate blacks, we want our great country back”, this was shown as reported true on the night of the election (Hunt 2016). However, Trump’s future plans for America had not consisted of any of these negative enforcements. These fake news reports were shown to have “truthful” quality to them and can be found on social websites such as  Facebook that has an audience of 1.8 billion (Hunt 2016). Another example of fake news. BuzzFeed News posted an article online raging about “How Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook” (Silverman 2016). The top fake news stories about the US presidential campaign that BuzzFeed News found was posted on facebook rather than big news companies such as the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, etc (Silverman 2016). There was “ 8,711,000 shares and comments on Facebook during the final three months of the US presidential campaigns that are now coming out as false election stories. This false news story states Hillary Clinton saying, “ I would like to see people like Donald Trump run for office..”. This story received “481,000 engagement on Facebook” and after this being noticed by BuzzFeed News they came to terms that this was false news being shared. During this time, with such chaos between the running candidates, news companies found it a perfect opportunity to do whatever in order to make their information to stand out from other companies that share the same news. The only option they had was to produce fake news to the world to make themselves more original.

After seeing the effects in 2016, there is no better time to address the issues of fake news. Social media sites will continue to dominate online spaces and therefore be targets because of their audience size. With new political scandals and new technology constantly emerging, it seems fake news is far from dissipating. To avoid the confusion and manipulation caused by fake news, one must become a conscious media users.

REFERENCES

O’Dell, J. (2011, March 14). For the First Time, More People Get News Online Than From Newspapers. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2011/03/14/online-versus-newspaper-news/#h7gQQJDfhqqZ

Silverman, C. (2016, November 16). This Analysis Shows How Viral Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook. Retrieved from: https:// www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/viral-fake-election-news-outperformed-real-news- on-facebook?utm_term=.ktGb0Rqvry#.kukRX2mZGJ

Grieco, E. (2017, November 02). More Americans are turning to multiple social media sites for news. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/ 2017/11/02/more-americans-are-turning-to-multiple-social-media-sites-for-news/

Shearer, E., & Gottfried, J. (2017, September 07). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news- use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/

Anderson, M & Caumont, A. (2014). How social media is reshaping news. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/

Oremus, W. (2016). How Many People Really Get Their News From Facebook? Slate. Retrieved from:www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/how_many_people_really_get_their_news_from_facebook.html

Comfy Cozy


I was in desperate need for comfort this day.

I grabbed my go to cropped v-neck sweater in the colour grey. This sweater is not itchy and only soft and warm. I then grabbed my black I.AM.GIA chain paints to pair with the sweater. Since both are pretty big pieces of clothing I pulled the shoulder down to show some skin to add a little shape to it all.

My belt bag in green added more colour to this look. It definitely is more of a trendy look with little colour so this bag helped it pop. Any bag wanted to pair with this outfit will work. In fact, it is very important to add a unique bag. When an outfit can be seen as simple a bag and shoes will make it more unique. The shows I paired were a white tennis show.

This look was meant to be comfy and trendy, my favourite combination.

Process Post #3

Process Post #3

I’ve definitely been slacking on the process posts, and I’m going to blame that on the fact that my primary focus lately has been touching up and editing all of my previous posts. I can be a bit meticulous about things, so when I started looking back on posts that I had already done and published, I started to notice a lot of little things that didn’t sit right with me and needed to be fixed.

First thing that I noticed and immediately had to fix, and still have yet to finish fixing, was on my home page. From the top of the home page all is well in my eyes, but as you scroll down and begin to see the posts all of the featured images are different sizes and therefore do not lineup with each other properly. Yes it’s probably not that big of a deal, but I could not go on until it has been fixed as best as possible.

This was the most major fix for me, but lots of other little things needed to fixed as well. I read over my previous posts and made various different changes to my writing. I never begin my writing with a plan simply because in the past when I have tried to follow a plan, I  had always ended up scraping it and going in almost an entirely different direction. The posts that I create start from a basic idea or topic, and everything that I write after that is basically a transcription of my thoughts as they come. Sometimes this works well for me, but a lot of the time it can lead to some messy sentences and poor grammar which needs to be fixed later on.

Since cleaning up the smaller details of my website I think it looks quite more put together and visually appealing, which for me is very important.

Social Media as a Primary Source For Receiving News

Publishing Paper

Word Count: 1250

As social media platforms continue to grow and expand, they also continue to become an increasingly popular source of news for much of the population. With the President of the United States using Twitter as his primary method of communicating with the world and public opinion becoming so easily manipulated by what is seen in the media, it has become to difficult to decipher whether or not this dramatic change in the way in which we receive our news is a good or a bad thing. It has been found that nearly two thirds of US adults are receiving their news online, and though they might not be getting all of their news on social media, those two thirds of American adults are getting some or majority of their news from social media (Pew Research Centre, 2017). With social media having such a large and continually growing influence on the way in which we receive and interpret our news, there are many benefits that are presented along with various dangers and red flags.  

Various different social media platforms, specifically Facebook and Instagram, have been designed using a series of different algorithms which are said to create a personally curated feed that is different for each user depending on a variety of different factors such as where they live, their age, the pages they most frequently visit, etc. What many people don’t recognize is the danger that these algorithms are presenting to the users of these different social media platforms. It’s no secret that the primary objective of these major social media companies is to maximize profit just as it is within any other major business or company, and in order to do so they must maximize attention from their users. As human beings we have a tendency to engage in news that creates fear and anger rather than news that is sharing joy; the result of this then becomes that these algorithms designed to”maximize attention give an advantage to negative messages.”  (Mcnamee, 2018)  With an increase in negative messages appearing on our feeds, it creates a false sense of what is really occurring in our world, leading to inappropriate solutions and responses meant to fix what is being portrayed in the media instead of what is really happening. An example of this would be

The most important method of which Facebook and Google use these algorithms to hold user attention is their use of ‘filter bubbles.’ ‘Filter bubbles’ can be described as the use of algorithms in order to give consumers what they want, ultimately leading to an endless series of posts in which each users pre existing beliefs are repeatedly confirmed by what they are reading online. (Mcnamee, 2018) The result of this is that each user of the internet sees a different version of the internet, a version that is curated to create the illusion that they are apart of the masses and that everyone else agrees with them. These algorithms limit the exposure to alternative opinions that each user is receiving, which ultimately leads to public opinion being manipulated into believing one certain opinion is right as they information they are receiving on the others is very limited and insufficient.

Along with the risk of being subjected to the use of algorithms and filter bubbles, using social media as a primary source for receiving news can also be dangerous as it presents the risk of being subjected to misinformation, or what is more commonly referred to as fake news. Over recent years journalism has become a controversial topic as it seems that public confidence in the field is continually dwindling. In a recent study done by the Columbia Journalism Review it was found that many readers of Buzzfeed and the New Yorker consider both publications to be equally credible, demonstrating how our ability to detect sophisticated, trustworthy platforms from fluffy, tabloid like platforms has changed. One subject of the study stated that “it’s not that the reputation of the publication did not affect [his] opinion … but more that [he] didn’t pay attention to it at all.” (Columbia Journalism Review, 2016). Credibility in the news has become a major concern for many, especially those who are receiving their news online through digital and social media platforms. The internet allows for unfiltered and unedited publishing, meaning that anyone who wants to publish their work now has the ability to do so, unlike in the print media such as the New York Times or Washington Post where each article is edited, fact checked and proofread before publication. With unregulated publication comes the prominent risk of being subjected to news with little to no credibility from platforms and publications with misconstrued intentions, ultimately creating distorted knowledge concerning world affairs, social movements, political standpoints and much more. A primary example of this being the continued misrepresentation of black men in the news and media, through this repeating misrepresentation a distorted image or stereotype has been formed regarding the type of people these men are. The media has a history of repeatedly portraying black men in a negative way, which has arguably caused many real life issues such as lower life expectancies and negative public opinion regarding who they are (see article from The Guardian, 2015) for these men who 99% of the time do not deserve the the treatment they unfortunately deserve.

Along with these negative aspects of social media being a growing source of news, there are of course positive aspects that are presented as well. While social media can be dangerous for manipulating public opinion, it can also be helpful in promoting public opinion. In recent years many social movements have been almost entirely reliant upon the attention they have received through the media for their success, such as the Women’s March and more recently, the #MeToo movement. Without social media as a source of news, these movements promoting female rights and the end to sexual assault would not have been nearly as large and influential as they were.  Social media as source of news helped to create and spread these movements across the world, constantly allowing supporters and participants to stay up to date with what was occurring and take a stand alongside those heavily involved in the movement. Media and journalism have also been referred to as ‘the fourth pillar of democracy,’ meaning that the media, journalism and news all play a large role in keeping our government honest and in place which can be seen as a very important positive attribute of the social media as a source of news. Without constant online circulation of what was or is occurring in the government it is likely that our government and political system would be even less legitimate than it already is.

As can be seen from the given examples above, social media being a primary source of news can presents various benefits while also presenting arguably very concerning dangers. As social media continues to grow as a primary source of news for many people, it’s important to find a balance in acknowledging the dangers and concerns as well as the benefits. Social media is not either purely good or bad, it is a both positive and negative platform from which we can receive our news and needs to treated as such. For some the benefits outweigh the downfalls or vice versa, but it remains crucial that we as a whole try and recognize both sides of this argument and do our best to use social media as a primary source of news in the best way we possibly can.

 

Citations:

 

  1. Bialik, Kristen, and Katerina Eva Matsa. “Key trends in social and digital news media.” Pew Research Center, 4 Oct. 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/04/key-trends-in-social-and-digital-news-media/.
  2. Curry, Kevin. “More and more people get their news via social media. Is that good or bad?” The Washington Post, 30 Sept. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/09/30/more-and-more-people-get-their-news-via-social-media-is-that-good-or-bad/?utm_term=.c9a20e4af023.
  3. Donaldson, Leigh. “When the media misrepresents black men, the effects are felt in the real world. .” The Guardian, 12 Aug. 2015.
  4. Funt, Danny, et al. “The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, and the push for digital credibility.” Columbia Journalism Review, 27 June 2016, www.cjr.org/special_report/newyorker_buzzfeed_trust.php?curator=MediaREDEF.

 

My current favourite Stella & Dot necklace

There are so many beautiful pieces in the Stella & Dot collection but I’d have to say that my absolute favourite necklace  is the gold Rebel pendant. It’s simple enough that you can wear it with practically any outfit, it’s very versatile. You can adjust the length to suit whatever top you’re wearing. And bonus, it comes in three colours! Gold, rose gold and silver.

Apparently (and this is not the reason it’s my favourite) singer and actress Selena Gomez, among many other celebrities have been seen wearing it.

Want one for yourself?

Check out my online shop!

Wearing the gold Rebel pendant

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Hoaxes and Propaganda and Fake News, Oh My! A Look into the Post-Truth Era of the 21st Century

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

We are currently living in an era known as the Information Age, a period characterized by a shift from the industrial to digital revolution. Today, technology plays a huge role in the shaping of human life and the growth of the economy. This influential force is largely driven by the Internet, which provides a democratic public space for discussion and distribution. It is a platform containing content, communication, and a body of collective knowledge designed to make the task of acquiring information easier and less time consuming. Through the “Triple Revolution”, identifying the growth in social networks, the rise of the Internet, and the advent of mobile connectivity (Wellmen & Raine, 2012), comes a change in how the public gets their news and information. The Internet revolution gave people stronger communications power and info gathering capacities, and allowed people to become their own publishers and broadcasters via social media. With this new sense of power put into the hands of the public and an overflow of news sources, comes the concern with propaganda and manipulation, placing us in the midst of a post-truth and fake news era.

Misinformation as a Weapon of Destruction

In light of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a plethora of fake news stories spread like wildfire on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. “Click bait” articles with intriguing titles and a lack of credible references to back up these fabricated claims were used as tactics to shape public perceptions of the oppositional politician in the running. For example, independent news source, Wonkette, published an article with the headline “HILLARY CLINTON ADMITS CONSPIRING WITH PIZZAGATE CHILD DUNGEON PIZZERIA!!1!”. This was just one of the many news articles that targeted presidential candidate at the time, Hillary Clinton, for being directly involved with a child-trafficking sex ring inside a pizza parlour. This outlandish accusation held no truth, yet was shared and believed by countless social media users lacking critical thinking skills. But this particular election wasn’t the first instance of fake news circulation. In fact, producing and sharing misinformation has been an age-old problem, only becoming more dangerous and ubiquitous through the rise of social media. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer reported that nearly seven in ten respondents worry about fake news and false information being used as a weapon. Deliberately publishing fake news stories with the intention of persuading readers to believe this misinformation as legitimate, is generated for the purpose of political or financial gain.

Support Through Social Media

So why is fake news so easy to create online? It’s important to first understand what exactly social media is, as these social networking platforms often perpetuate the dissemination of these stories. Social media, as defined by scholars Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison, are “mediated social networks that support interaction, production, and consumption” (Boyd & Ellison, 2007). Social media is also viewed as fostering a participatory culture. Media scholar Henry Jenkins, defines it as a culture that welcomes consumers to actively participate in the creation and circulation of new content (Jenkins, 2013). However, fellow scholar Christian Fuchs, states that an Internet dominated by corporations whose main goal is to profit through exploiting and commodifying, cannot possibly be participatory (Fuchs, 2014). I think it’s important to focus on both the techno-cultural constructs that Jenkins refers to, and the socio-economic structures that Fuchs addresses, in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how social media shapes participatory culture and furthermore, sociability. These perspectives beg the question, is social media truly fostering authentic participation and empowerment, or ushering in new modes of corporate and social control? One must keep in mind that the constructs of capitalism influence the creation and circulation of online content. When we look at Facebook’s social media mandate: “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”, and Twitter’s mandate: “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers”, they position their users in control of creating, sharing and consuming content. Content presented via social media does not have to have approval to be published, which is beneficial to users in the sense that it creates a freedom from censorship and control. But on the other hand, this can also help support the production and spread of fake news.

Combatting Fake News

The challenge lies in finding sources and evaluating its validity. Authors Fornaciari and Roca examine the challenges with using the Internet as a news source tool including, “problems obtaining and evaluating quality sources, and successfully integrating the information obtained using critical thinking” (Fornaciari & Roca,1999). Investing in developing strong digital literacy will equip you with valuable knowledge and skills to discern facts from alternative facts. Molly Beestrum’s CRAP Test is a tool anyone can use when assessing the validity of a news story. It focuses on 4 main areas. Currency – how recent is the information? Reliability – is the content backed up with references/sources, or primarily an opinion piece? Authority – is the publisher visible, reputable, and what is there interest in this information? Purpose – is this fact or opinion, biased, or trying to sell you something? By running through these questions you are doing your “due diligence to verify news sources” (Zhenegye, 2018).

No Easy Solution

The spread of fake news is not an easy thing to stop. These stories can play on our weaknesses and lure us in with little effort. It can come naturally to want to only believe information that affirms your pre-existing beliefs, which is known as confirmation bias. Social media algorithms shape what kind of content we see, often rewarding content that have a high “sharability” factor through click bait titles. In Mike Caulfield’s article “Yes Digital Literacy. But Which One?” he stresses, “domain knowledge is crucial to literacy”. This goes beyond the CRAP test. We must consider and understand the environment which our website sources act in, and using our tools and skills, critically analyze the information online that many of us are quick to consume without batting an eye. Those who grew up in the Information Age – known as “Digital Natives”, are said to now more than anyone else, engage in “increased multitasking behaviours…linked to increased distractibility” (Loh & Kanai, 2016). This can be linked to the ongoing influence of fake news, as many people lack the attentive focus needed to identify credible information from misinformation and hoaxes, and would rather quickly accept a piece of fiction as fact than look outside the source for similar information to verify. The Internet is a largely valuable force in our society and we should understand the effective way to use it in order to increase our collective intelligence. Moderate usage of this technology would be the most beneficial, using it as a resource for gathering information to help formulate an answer. It becomes dangerous to us when we turn to this platform for other’s thoughts and ideas and blindly adopt them without critical consumption or formation of our own ideas first. Self-reliance must still be exercised often, and the Internet should be used as a tool, which assists in our ability to obtain news and knowledge.

Leaving My Digital Footprint

Suler describes the “Online Disinhibition Effect” that takes place when face-to-face interactions are replaced with actions behind a computer screen. This can also be linked to the spread of misinformation, as online “trolls” can adopt a mentality of “toxic disinhibition”, which is often disrespectful and causes harm due to the ability to be anonymous, minimizing ones sense of responsibility (Suler, 2004). As a content creator myself, I have asked myself who I want to be online and how I will be a good digital citizen. The fake news phenomenon is something that’s largely out of my control, as I am just one social media user and blogger in a sea of Internet news and opinion sources. But I can do my part to help combat this era of fake news. How? I am not a news source website. I identify as more of an opinion and personal experience source. But by communicating with as little bias as possible, being honest and reliable with any facts I include and linking these facts to credible sources of expertise, I can build up my own credibility and genuinely become a trusted source of information.

 


References

 

Boyd, D. and Ellison, N. (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393.x/full

 

Fornaciari, C. & Roca, M. (1999). Age of Clutter: Conducting Effective Research Using the Internet. Journal of Management Education. Vol. 23, 6: pp. 732-742. Retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/105256299902300610

 

Fuchs, C. (2014). Social Media as Participatory Culture. SAGE Publications. Retrieved from: file:///Users/monicaalves/Downloads/Fuchs_2014_SoME_A_Critical_Intro_Ch_3%20(1).pdf

 

Jenkins, H. (2013). Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture. NYU Press. Retrieved from: file:///Users/monicaalves/Downloads/project_muse_21244-749941%20(1).pdf

Loh, K. & Kanai, R. (2016). How Has the Internet Reshaped Human Cognition? The Neuroscientist. Vol. 22, 5: pp. 506-520. Retrieved from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1073858415595005

 

Suler, J. (2004). Cyber Psychology and Behavior – The Online Disinhibition Effect, Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from: http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

 

Wellmen, B. & Raine, L. (2012). The New Social Operating System, The MIT Press.  Retrieved from: file:///Users/monicaalves/Downloads/Rainie_and_Wellman_2012_Networked_Ch_1%20(2).pdf

 

Zhenegye, J. (2018, February 6). How to Combat Fake News to Build Trust and Protect Your Reputation, Communication World Magazine. Retrieved from: http://boston.iabc.com/2018/02/12/how-to-combat-fake-news-to-build-trust-and-protect-your-reputation/

The post Hoaxes and Propaganda and Fake News, Oh My! A Look into the Post-Truth Era of the 21st Century appeared first on Multi Monica.

Valentine’s Day issue…

How are you doing? We both were so confused about Canadian valentine vs Japanese valentine. Because Canadian Valentine’s Day is usually happening one day and “usually” from man to lady, and Japanese Valentine’s Day has two day one is Feb 14th and another is March 14th(it is called White day) and 2/14 is from girls to boys and 3/14 is from boys to girls. And it was kind of awkward to ask “which style are we doing?”. So I decided to do Japanese style and I cooked curry and rice with hamburg for him!

However, my boyfriend decided to do Canadian style so he gave me nice flower here♡

And guess what? We have two dinner!!!!!!

We laughed so much how bad at we are asking stuffs but this events made us happy and warm! We were both super full and couldn’t go out after dinner. I have those experience so much with him, “culture difference”. But it makes me learn new culture and new experience. Now my boyfriend badly want to move to Japan with me because he also wants to learn new stuffs and better stuffs.

 

Well that was the surprised that he is planning to move out to Japan with me in the future. I’m super happy I heard that from him because I can be close to my family more and I’m gonna have more fun together there!

Vol. 8: Process Post

The internet is too important. Important for jobs, for me, for life.. I wonder how life would be without it. But, I never want to imagine that ever.

We were asked last week what we do with our last hour of internet. Though some of us did the usual “download all my music, photos, files,” etc., I realized I cared more about how it connected me to people. It was seemingly a lot of the reasons why I still keep in contact with a lot of my friends or people that mattered in my life. If it weren’t for the internet, how could I really keep in contact on an almost real time basis with my friends and family who live across the world?

I also was never the person to collect everyone’s numbers, either. And I have had multiple instances where I needed to contact someone and I didn’t have their number. If it weren’t for the magical internet, I would have never been able to have contact them. So what would I do in my last hour of the Internet? Go through the people that I contact with all the time online and don’t have their contact saved on my phone.

Let’s not forget how much I love to online shop (this blog is all about my fashion style, of course!). There are always tabs left on my Chrome of clothes that I found on online shops that I wish to purchase, but did not bite the bullet just yet. This time, I would bite the bullet for all the last things I wanted, because most of the times the clothes I buy are only available through online distribution. Isn’t it fascinating how much I need the internet to keep up with my style, though essentially, there is no Internet needed to wear clothing? The way it has revolutionized what we do, how we interact with others, how we shop, and how we learn is explore is so crazy that it almost frightens me. If we evolved this fast, just imagine what the internet and being connected to others through the “web” really means.

Though this will probably be mostly touched by my essay, we even get our news from the online world. Millennials such as myself aren’t looking on the television for our news; we’re looking online. We care about what our friends are sharing, what they care about, what they’re talking about it. We live in a world where our network, online, is powerful.

This leads me into another interesting point of how much power we have due to the Internet. Nowadays, restaurants and food places are under very tight scrutiny due to the way customers can last out at any second. We all make mistakes, I know, but one could cost you your entire business. And what’s scary is the fact that we can have the power to do that with a single post after feeling that we didn’t receive “the perfect service” or “was wrong.” I understand sometimes that the restaurant owners could actually be at fault, but most of the time, it is just a misunderstanding. It’s hard to forgive at first, but a lot of times, it’s even harder to forget.

’till next time, homies!

Ch. 5: Perplexed

“You look like you’re in a Japanese design studio,” quoted by my friend taking the shots. I never really done shots inside a house, because I was too picky in how loud and unappealing it looked. But, since our airbnb was super cool and refreshing, we decided to take some shots inside!

Jacket: Oak+Fort

Top: Oak+Fort

Bottoms: Alexander McQueen

Shoes: Vans

I think the images do a lot of the talking this time, so I’ll try to keep it as short and sweet as possible–I’ll try to say what I need to say, and nothing more!

For the jacket and top, I actually found both of these at the Oak+Fort sample sale. Yes, I know my closet is heavily based from this brand already, but often times it’s because they have exactly what I’m looking for. Want to save money? Try to get pickier and be very critical of what you want. This also makes you adore the stuff you buy, and value it way more. I’m not the person to have things in my closer where it is only worn once, and that’s how it should be! The top is unique in that I was looking for a simple white shirt with a three-quarter zipper detailing, and not to mention the price on this things was a huge score ($12!). The jacket is a black bomber, but what is not thoroughly seen is the detailing involved in it. This is actually a go-to jacket for me when I’m on the run–it’s light weight, comfy, and is stylish. It’s a black bomber, but it has a nice matte coating on it which gives it an edgier look!

The bottoms are.. yes.. an investment piece. They’re wide legged cropped pants! What I truly like about them is the unique fabric on them, and as well as it is actually super wide. I’ve tried on at least 30 different wide legged black pants so far in this lifetime, and I will say, most of them were no’s for the fact that they weren’t wide enough. These also had a unique double-pleat! Because I usually tuck my shirts in, now, the detailing of a pleat is important to me. It gives off more value, at least to me it does. To think that someone took the extra time to put a pleat in a pant already makes me feel more and more important. I’m easily moved, that’s for sure.

It’s the little things, people say. And each of these pieces I’m wearing has a “little something” that makes it different from very similar items or what other people are wearing. If you find joy in these little details, it’ll make it valuable. Trust me.

’till next time, homies!

Vol. 7: Essay 1

In an ever increasingly digital world, news, such as how people digest the news and what news is available, has evolved significantly from the morning paper at your doorstep. It is no new fact that news delivered through paper to everyone’s doorstep has decreased year over year in daily circulation in North America alone, causing a significant shift towards digital mediums. The evolution has caused a seemingly divide for Millennials and other generations, as they continue to resort to mediums such as social media for awareness of the world on their mobile devices. As the delivery of news and important events continue to adapt to new technologies and consumer habits, one must consider this information is now received and where important age groups, such as Millennials, are digesting this content.

Some researchers even find that Millennials’ awareness is narrow and that their discovery of significant events is almost accidental and passive, suggesting that the pre-digital generation were more interested in news and events (Media Insight Project, 2015). However, according to a quantitative and qualitative study conducted by the Media Insight Project on 1,045 Millennials (ages 18-34) within different parts of the US, 85% of Millennials agree that keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them. This opposes the notion by some researchers that believe this generation is generally apathetic towards issues and events unless it is the most important news. Though Millennials do agree that keeping up with the news is something that they do think about, the question is where this content is consumed.

The figure below showcases the division between younger generations and older generations on their main source to obtain news in Q1 2017, based on a survey of over 70k news consumers from 36 different countries (Dunn, 2017). The sources vary significantly as the age groups get older, showcasing this division graphically and suggesting the every increasingly important for news to be disseminated and created online—there is an increasing trend in terms of how digital people become as the age groups are younger. Furthermore, it also showcases the unpopular choices of radio and print across all ages.

Figure: Main Source of News by Age Group in Q1 2017

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-vs-baby-boomers-get-news-chart-2017-6

According to the survey, around 64% of people ages 18-24 and 58% of people ages 25-34 use online (including social media) as their main source of how they get their news. Even with social media alone, 33% and 21% of these age groups respectively turn to places where they connect with friends to receive information. TV still dominates for the older generations, with 45-51% of people ages 45 and above using this medium as their main source.

Social media continues to play an enormous role in how Millennials learn about the world. Facebook, the nearly ubiquitous part of Millennials lives and most used social networking site, is not the only medium Millennials use for news as on average, those surveyed from Media Insight Project obtain news from three different social media platforms (Media Insight Project, 2015). These include YouTube, Instagram, and places of active involvement such as Reddit. As noted as being more passive, the consumption of news and information is woven into daily lives of social interaction and connection—they’re not always actively searching, but always connected and mobile. Also, not only are they looking at one article on a subject, but they are digging deeper and use search engines to learn more about the issue at hand (Media Insight Project, 2015).

Within the realm of digital news, mobile is becoming the preferred device. The portion of Americans who have ever gotten their news on a mobile device has risen from 54% in 2013 to 72% in 2016, suggesting that these digital users are on the go, do not have a lot of time and want to experience life (Eva Masta & Lu, 2016). There is even a shift towards a preference of receiving news from a mobile device over the desktop computer or laptop. Among people who receive their news from both places, 56% prefer mobile device to get news (Eva Masta & Lu, 2016).

Because of the multitasking functionality of mobile devices, many question whether news content will prevail as the audience is more apt to digesting news quickly and dipping in and out. However, through a study of online reader behaviour by Pew Research Center researchers on the details of 117 million anonymized, complete cellphone interactions with 74,840 articles from 30 news websites, the analysis found that despite the smaller screen and the multitasking abilities, consumers do spend more time on average with long-form news articles than with short-form. The length of long-forms tends to not deter most users away. Between the two forms, the total engaged time with articles of 1,000 words or longer averages about two times the time of short-form stories: 123 seconds compared with 57, and this is consistent across time of day and the pathway taken to get to the article (Mitchell, Stocking, & Eva Masta, 2016).

A typical journey of how I obtained an interesting news piece, such as the recent announcement of in the increase in minimum wage in British Columbia. Similar to the different studies and research findings mentioned above, I found myself stumbling upon this information through Facebook, scrolling down my personal news feed on my iPhone as I was commuting to school. It felt almost accidental, but it was the talk of the day as it sparked enormous controversy on not only online publications, but amongst my friends on social media. The voice of my friends and who I am connected online seems stronger than ever—and though I knew I would have probably found this out through word-of-mouth, it surprised me how much news that will directly affect me in my own province can reach me easily without having to search for it. After I saw the article about the news was shared from a friend, it was not difficult to pull me in to read the full-page article. I was easily interested in why this is happening, when it is happening, and how it happened in the first place. Now, I believe that social media plays a key role in the delivery of the most interesting, impeding, and important news to Millennials.

As the digital evolution continues to progress within the aspect of news, events, and information, it is important for companies within this space that curate and disseminate content to integrate these trends, to monetize on digital users. As users are continually on the go and stumble upon news, the real hurdle of credibility remains, and how easily news can be distorted quicker than a day. For digital users, this means that cross-referencing and fact-checking with multiple sources is key to obtaining credible information, alongside the credibility of the author or news creator. For content creators and news publishers, this age requires the use of social media to diffuse information and to use social connections and interactions of people to share and educate others on important news and events. It is important to understand where the delivery of news is ultimately evolving towards to understand what content should be then produced and how it should be received.

Sources:

Dunn, J. (2017, June 26). How Millennials vs Baby Boomers Get Their News. Retrieved from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-millennials-vs-baby-boomers-get-news-chart-2017-6

Eva Masta, K., & Lu, K. (2016, September 14). 10 facts about the changing digital news landscape. Retrieved from Fact Tank: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/14/facts-about-the-changing-digital-news-landscape/

Mitchell, A., Stocking, G., & Eva Masta, K. (2016, May 5). Long-Form Reading Shows Signs of Life in Our Mobile News World. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: Journalism & Media: http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/05/long-form-reading-shows-signs-of-life-in-our-mobile-news-world/

Project, M. I. (2015, March 16). How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation. Retrieved from American Press Institute: https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/millennials-news/

 

 

 

Essay #1 – Social media news shape the public opinion

       When we mention the news, it is impossible not to mention the impact it has on shaping the public opinion. In this passage, I am going to elaborate this impact on three perspectives, the creation, the dissemination, and curation of the digital content, in the following paragraphs.

      On the basis of the survey data from PEW Research Center, a median of only 52% across the 38 nations polled say the news media in their country do a good job of reporting on political issues fairly, while 44% say they do not. It is difficult to say that the news we read on the social media is entirely fair and unbiased, because behind most of the media and the journalist, the news creation institute, there are interest relationships and even emotional feelings of the news writer individually. The writer or the journalist, armed with the matured and experienced writing skills, and the knowledge of psychology, can easily move their reader`s emotion and their action, shape their opinions. The public opinion about ketogenic-diet is a good case in point. This kind of diet is proved the positive and direct effect for the patient of diabetes and can help the fat people be slim, and there are plenty of reasonable and believable papers published on the scientific journal support its benefit. Because this kind of the diet promotes the people reduce the carbohydrate intake, which means that the crop and the rice consumption will decrease rapidly, obviously encroach on certain people’s interests. And when people start this diet, their body will go through an uncomfortable period to adapt this dietary structure,  which makes one who try this diet inimical to it subjectively. On the ground of the interest and the inimical emotions, we can see there is a flood of negative information about ketogenic-diet on the social media, and the news that it was ranked as the unhealthiest diet spread widely. Shaped with this information, almost none want to try it, including the people who caught diabetes, albeit many doctors raise their voice to advocate it.

      After the creation, the news needs to be disseminated. With the advent of the modern society and the development of the Internet, the role of the social network, such as the Facebook and the Twitter, plays on shaping the public opinion should be considered prioritized. From the first month of Trump`s presidency, he signed a series of executive order about the immigration. Consequently, it induced hot debate and protests erupted across the country. This heated debate can be mirrored on the twitter. 11.5 millions of these tweets had links to external sources and were the focus of this topic. The researchers in the PEW institution analysis these tweets and then found that only 1030 sites are most frequently linked. And 9.7 millions of tweets related to these websites. So these websites act as the KOL in the disseminated of the news, and apparently, the bias of these KOL have a substantial effect on shaping the public opinion. KOL, key opinion leader, are some individuals and some news organizers who have a powerful influence on the public. In this way, according to the group effect in the group psychology, a kind of opinion or emotion would spread swiftly in the group, especially the followers of these KOL. The larger the group, the more extreme the opinion or the emotion is, the swifter the idea and the feeling would spread. Because the member of a large group would lose their judgment and sense easily, infected by the atmosphere in the group, make their reaction instinctively, that is, follow the other group members. Spring from the group effect, the powerful influence of the KOL, and the speeds the opinions spread on the internet, the KOL in the social media played an essential role on the shaping of the public opinion, especially in a hotly debated topic.

      Lastly, when the readers open their cellphones to read the news, the social media also play an important role. On the one hand, they pay a large part of attention on the news in their nation and local roles, and comparatively, shows a low level of interest on international new. According to a survey on the PEW institution, large majorities of people surveyed around the 38 countries say they follow the national and local news closely (global medians of 86% and 78% respectively). But when it comes to news about other countries, the global median percentage is only 57%.Consequently, the way and the opinion they hold about the world is only hinged on the local news they read. Furthermore, on their social media, they always follow their friends and the KOLs who hold the same opinions with them. At the same time, the news pushed on the reader’s cellphone are also be chosen precisely based on the Big Data technology. The Big Data technology can efficiently compute and predict what kind of opinion and context the reader would like to support and share. Consequently, this phenomenon act as the echo in the valley. The readers only hold their own opinions, and the news and the conclusions he received support his idea. More seriously, most of the people are not educated well, and they haven`t got the eyesight and the critical thinking ability. In conclusion, the social media shapes the public opinion as for the following way: stress the views the reader hold, make the reader more challenging to get in touch with the difference, narrow his eyesight locally, and even ruin his tolerance of the diversity.

      In a nutshell, the social media plays an important role in shaping the public opinion, and personally speaking, I considered it does more harm than good on forming our determination system. We should try to learn to be thinking more critically, objectively and try to accept the difference with open arms, in this way we can have our own opinion, reduce the negative shaping effect of the social media.


Reference

[1]Publics Globally Want Unbiased News Coverage, but Are Divided on Whether Their News Media Deliver | PEW Research Center  http://www.pewglobal.org/2018/01/11/publics-globally-want-unbiased-news-coverage-but-are-divided-on-whether-their-news-media-deliver/

[2] Brehm B J, Seeley R J, Daniels S R, et al. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women.[J]. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003, 88(4):1617. [3] Dyson P A, Beatty S, Matthews D R. A low‐carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non‐diabetic subjects[J]. Diabetic Medicine, 2007, 24(12):1430-1435.

[4] Jr Y W, Foy M, Chalecki A M, et al. A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes[J]. Nutrition & Metabolism,2,1(2005-12-01), 2005, 2(1):34.

[5] Keto Diet: Does It Really Work? | US News Best Diets

https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/keto-diet

[6] Turcotte J, York C, Irving J, et al. News recommendations from social media opinion leaders: Effects on media trust and information seeking[J]. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 2015, 20(5): 520-535.

[7] Le Bon G. The crowd: A study of the popular mind[M]. Fischer, 1897.

[8] Sources Shared on Twitter: A Case Study on Immigration | Pew Research Center

http://www.journalism.org/2018/01/29/sources-shared-on-twitter-a-case-study-on-immigration/

The post Essay #1 – Social media news shape the public opinion appeared first on 36C.

Whistler, British Columbia

As a novice snowboarder passing through BC in January, there is one place you go – Whistler.

Whistler is pretty much the Mecca of winter destinations, and I had been hearing about it for years from all my friends in Hong Kong who have done winter seasons there. It’s big. It’s epic. It’s famous. I had to see what all the fuss was about.

I wanted a solid week somewhere with great snow, easily accessible lifts and long, varied runs of all levels, where I could really focus on improving AND feel comfortable. Whistler ticks all of that. Also, there is an entire cafe/shack on the mountain that sells different grilled cheeses called Ollies.

Anywho, I was nervous Whistler would be too commercial or too touristy, but holy crap I loved it. Like, I-looked-into-changing-my-flights-to-stay-longer loved it. It was just what I needed at just the right time. Yes, yes there is a reason it’s consistently ranked North America’s #1 resort.

Which also leads me to my second point, for those (like me) who are unaware, the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is actually two mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb, makes sense right? There are dozens of chairlifts and gondolas that go up both, and there is an incredible freestanding gondola linking the two mountains with the village sprawling below along both mountains.

My days were pretty similar. I would wake up, go get coffee and walk over to Whistler mountain, catch the gondola up and spend most of the day riding on the mountain before catching the Peak 2 Peak Gondola and crossing over to Blackcomb and riding down. I ate a lot, I spent a lot of time in my onesie, and I read. It was so chill and great. Each day I felt like I was riding better and better.

With so much snow, I was fizzing. I knew the trip was going to be great, and oh my was the village of Whistler so cute. It was a real-life winter wonderland.  Whistler is one of those places that gets under your skin. I know I’ll be back. Have you been to Whistler? Do you ski or snowboard? Are you a fan of winter wonderlands? What’s your dream holiday?

 

Travel Advice from a Stranger

Hope everyone had a good Sunday! Today, I share with you my dreadful encounter with people giving me unsolicited “travel” advice.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had people tell me multiple times to go “back” to places I am neither from nor have ever been to.

If you’re scratching your head and wondering what I mean by that, let me explain.

Last week, as I was crossing a street near my house, a man riding in a blue Honda Civic rolled down his window and shouted out: “HEY BITCH. GO BACK TO CHINA!” Then, he threw back his head and snorted, while his friend drove off.

Now, I’m always open to receiving advice, especially if it’s helpful. But this was rude, completely unwanted, and just a tad bit racist. Yeah, I’m Asian, but not all POCS that identify as Asian look the same. And not all of them come from the same place. There’s more to Asia (the continent) than just China. See the below map.

Actually, I’m going to call it what it is: racist and aggressive.

It also makes no sense. And I’ll show you why.

Though referring to me as a “bitch” is accurate when at first assessing my gender, given that I do identify as female and exhibit physical traits congruent with being a woman, what warranted this verbal assault from a vehicle driving by?  If you google the definition of the word “bitch,” yet get this:

I don’t think I look like a dog, wolf, fox, or otter (I mean, I’d be chuffed if I could be any of those animals – seriously I love them), so I’m going to rule out that option for now. Maybe, as they were driving by, they saw me and thought of me as a “difficult or unpleasant situation or thing.” I can understand that.

I mean, looking at me probably reminded him of the terrible history of exploitation and systematic racism that people who looked like me suffered with oppressive laws such as the Chinese Head Tax. Or continue to suffer with the gentrification of Chinatown. I mean it must be difficult for him. So yeah. That must have been rough to experience at 8:30am on a Tuesday. He probably just didn’t want that throwback.

Perhaps they believed the best way to rectify that discomfort was to complain about it. Who knows? People are weird. Especially those that cannot seem to use the word “bitch” correctly.

The second part of that piece of travel advice, “Go back to China,” also doesn’t work. I’ve never been to China. So demanding I go “BACK” to a place I have never been to would be wrong. You can’t return to a place if you have never gone there.

“Visit China!” would be a better command. “Go TO China” would also work in this case. Both are imperatives and make much more sense grammatically.

So my question is, what was this person trying to achieve with demanding I go back to China?

Is my walking on the sidewalk a threat to his being in a car? I don’t think so. Me – pedestrian. Pedestrian walks on sidewalk. Him – automobile. Automobile drives on street. I wasn’t in his space. I wasn’t threatening him. So what gives?

Maybe it was my apparent race. I look Chinese and maybe the colour of my skin threatened him. Being a female and a minority, my power in the social hierarchy must have offended him in some way. Oops.


Oh wait. Female and minority. Hmmmmm. Nevermind.

I asked a peer what to make of this, and rather than dissect what the man said to me, she asked me what I was “doing wrong.”

As if he was automatically correct. As if he had the right to reprimand me because I had done nothing.

And that bothered the heck out of me.

Why would she assume I was doing something wrong?

“Were you jaywalking?” she asks.

Nope. I wasn’t. And even if I was, don’t you think saying: “HEY BITCH. DON’T JAYWALK” is a lot more effective than “GO BACK TO CHINA”? Walking to China is going to take a whole lot of time this guy did not seem ready to invest in my ability to cross the street.

Just saying.

Yeah. I know I’m being a facetious asshole. But you know what? Someone called me a bitch and then commanded I go to a country I’m not even from, so shut it.

 

 

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Parekh and Singh

Parekh and Singh are a music duo from Kolkata, India. They are an alternative rock band who mostly create dream pop music. In terms of lyrics and melody, Parekh and Singh are one of my favorite bands. The vocals are crisp and dreamy with lyrics that ponder over life and existence. The band is also at the forefront of the rising indie music scene in India and have done a tremendous job of introducing the genre to people in the region while producing music that is loved globally. They also have created beautiful music videos with very lovely aesthetics.

Included below is their debut album, Ocean.  

Process: Innovation and Selling Yourself

This week we had the pleasure of having Iain Begg from SFU Innovates join us to talk about innovation. He talked a lot about different groups that are working on innovative projects and how they got funding for them. It didn’t really feel too relevant to me until Suzanne mentioned that with most of us […]

second peer review

Pride & Joy

Hello Friends!

This week in our Publishing class we were asked to take a look at a website from a student in our neighboring tutorial, and take a closer look at their site design.

 

This week I had the pleasure of visiting a Lifestyle blog from Joyce titled Pride & Joy.

Her site, with the latest blog post titled “MEN GET PRAISED TOO MUCH FOR EXISTING” which you can find and agree with here. Her posts continue to talk about food reviews at Snowy Village!!! on Robson(my fave) and a fresh look at Carly Rae Jepsen’s music career.

 

 

After reading through a few blog posts of hers to get a sense of who she was, and what she cared about, I reasoned that her blog design appropriately fitted her content. In Week Four Lecture notes about Design from Suzanne Norman, there is a design principle called “Balance” which I think Joyce does really well. There is lots of white space in and around her blog, which allows her content to be the main focus, and deters any attention towards her posts.

The main page of her blog is symmetrical and her blog title “Pride and Joy” is nicely centered at the top in bold font. The movement throughout her blog is minimal, quick and linear; working your way through her blog is simple, as the menu is properly placed at the top which guides you through her posts and pages.

 

 

Joyce’s blog!!!

The proportion of her images to her text are balanced, one not overpowering the other. Each component on her blog whether it be a photo, video or paragraph, work well with each other to form “Unity”, another design principle described in Norman’s lecture files.

She has also chosen a typeface that goes well with her lifestyle theme, and fits her content well.

 

She captions, links and lists her media well, making it easy for the reader to identify which video is about what song for example; you are never left confused about how the media relates to the topic.

 

 

However, I think the white background may be too white, her title lacking some depth. Her opinions seem strong and important, so I am looking for that in the design of her website.

Perhaps some color to the front page would add contrast without being distracting

I feel some color, pattern or overhead image would break into the otherwise white space nicely, the change in rhythm wouldn’t be too overwhelming.

 

All in all, Joyce’ website is well put together, I will be looking forward to seeing what other posts she adds to her blog next, and to see any possible changes she makes 😊😊

 

references:

Norman, S. ( 2018, February 1 ) “Some Consideration on Web Design and Type On Screens” Week Four Lecture Files – Design Retrieved from: http://posiel.com/author/suzanne/

Mysticons Revisited: Updated Review 2018

Back in August 2017, I published a first-impression review of the Canadian animated series Mysticons. At the time, I had some critiques that still stand to this day; however, I have come to realize that I vastly underestimated the quality and potential of the series.

 

Synopsis:

Produced by Nelvana and Corus Entertainment—two Canadian production companies specializing in children’s programming, specifically animation—has created a series that could potentially become a hit in this day and age online cartoon fandoms. The show surrounds a group of four teenagers, Arkayna, Piper, Emerald, and Zarya, who are brought together through a acquisition quest of the “Dragon disk”, an ancient artifact that is held in the royal ranks of Drake City. This artifact has caught the eye of evil perpetrators who would like to use it’s power to revive a previous overlord. The four girls are unexpectedly granted powers from the disk and are bestowed the unsolicited role of protecting their home from evil beings.

 

To this date, 26 episodes of Mysticons have been broadcasted and I can confidently say that it is a hidden gem in the world of modern-day animation, and amidst the top animated series to come out of Canada. Yes, there are some cliché moments sprinkled throughout its narrative, but these are largely forgiven due to the sheer charm that the characters, premise, and story emit. In the overcrowded world of entertainment media, originality is becoming a scarcity; thus, a long-winded and child-targeted series is bound to incorporate a few tropes. What sets Mysticons apart however, is how it approaches cliché characterizations and plot points, in that it does an excellent job to provide a fresh take on tired old ideas.

 

In my previous, admittedly uninformed, review of the series, I praised its unique premise and vast scope. This opinion still stands, possibly even stronger than it did before. It has been a long time since an Americanized animated series has showcased such ambitious prospects for world-building starting from its very first episode. Based on the first minute of watching episode one, the audience is thrown into a world that combines futuristic, fantasy, and modern-day urban elements, in a space occupied by beings ranging from anthropomorphic cats to pint-sized pixies, to regular humans. A quarter into the episode introduces the audience to strong social divides within the central setting of Drake City, featuring an underground community beneath the metropolis full of inner-city occupants.

 

Comparisons are presented between the “Undercity” environment, home of Piper and Zarya, to the introduction of Emerald and Princess Arkayna who reside in a grand palace as they are tied to the royal family. Showcasing diverse living arrangements within child-targeted animation is a rarity at best, so embracing the mere concept of a city with social divide shows its audience that Mysticons is serious about expanding the scope of its world while even drawing parallels to modern-day social alienation. Additionally, a current plot twist will most likely foster conflict rooted in clashed upbringings of the core Mysticons team.

 

The series centers 4 female leads. This in combination with being set in magical world might lead some to believe that Mysticons merely promotes a feign sense of “girl-power”, that actually feeds into long-lived stereotypes of young female behaviour centering topics of fashion and boys (e.g. Winx Club); however, this is far from the case. The series is heavily action and plot oriented, features that are especially absent in female-led and targeted series—and a combination of elements that are absent in the slice-of-life, comedic, and episodic wave of animated content we have been receiving within the past couple of years (e.g. Ben 10 2017 , Powerpuff Girls 2016, Teen Titans GO!, Unikitty, etc.). It carries an unbiased an indiscriminate outlook towards gender roles and corresponding behaviours, in that the main characters can be easily replaced by male versions of themselves, and the writing could remain mostly unaltered without the characters and story feeling out of place.

 

Not only are the female characters of Mysticons treated exceptionally well by the series’ writers, but they are also well respected within the context of the series itself. The male characters that are featured do not feel the need to exert bravado over our protagonists, nor do they feel intimidated or emasculated by the Mysticons’ deep-seated power. Instead, male and female characters work alongside each other as equal partners striving to reach the shared goal of keeping Drake City safe from evil perpetrators—an element that should be inherent in children’s media, but is unfortunately uncommon within the vast scope of animated works currently available. In more recent years, there have been quite a few well-known series that embrace males and females working in unison without falling into gendered stereotypes (e.g. Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, Steven Universe, Miraculous Ladybug), but in the animated arena as a whole, the dynamic between these characters are often unbalanced and comply with problematic tropes. So on top of production companies straying away from the action genre, the fact that Mysticons falls under this category and presents forward-thinking female portrayals, fills a huge gap in the current animation environment.

 

The four protagonists are very likable, each with identifiable traits that result in a playful dynamic. Although Arkayna is promoted as the leader of the Mysticons, each member has their fair share of screen time and are given three-dimensional personalities to a similar degree. Although characters like Piper and Zarya can be categorized by personality type (e.g. the bubbly and peppy character vs. the tough street character) they definitely have much more going for them than their labels imply. For example, contrast to Piper’s lively personality, she deals with anxiety that roots from her fear of being abandoned as a child before meeting Zarya. Carrying this burden makes her much more complex and has the viewer questioning whether her upbeat demeanor partially disguises the anxiety she’s experiencing, both from her teammates and from herself. Em and Arkayna are also quite complex in that you cannot describe using only a few adjectives—they simply do not fit into a single box.

 

In addition to thoughtful characterization, diversity is a major theme presented in Mysticons. Not only in terms of social standing, but as mentioned previously, the series also utilizes a variety of human and inhuman races that coexist harmoniously. The series even showcases the early budding of a same-sex relationship—and not between background or one-off characters, but involving one of the main protagonists and presented in a way that isn’t glorified. This is groundbreaking in the arena of animation that so vigorously attempts to shelter children from progressively-liberal thoughts. Steven Universe openly promotes sexuality that diverts from the norm, however the characters involved are hidden under the gauze of being alien gems that are personified as humans. Star Vs. the Forces of Evil showcases same-sex couples in the background of an episode, which does wonders to normalize living in a world of diversity; however it does not have a same impact as presenting a human protagonist exploring an early romantic relationship with someone of the same gender.

 

Mysticons‘ level of storytelling and characterization is incredibly ambitious, making it easily one of the most plot-driven cartoon series that is currently being broadcasted. Although it has a few filler episodes near its start, as the plot progresses they become relatively scarce. As a very well-written series with plenty of charm, it’s sad to see that many animation reviewers, especially on YouTube, are brushing the series aside as something that they do not plan to watch anytime soon; however, on the other end of the spectrum, Mysticons’ YouTube channel and social media platforms are slowly but surely gaining momentum and fostering a space for discussion for young and older viewers alike. Although Mysticons has only managed to gain a cult following so far, individuals who consider themselves fans of the series seem to be incredibly invested in its narrative. On top of this, it has only began airing half a year ago, so it has plenty of time to gain further momentum.

 

Overall, I highly recommend Mysticons as it is a very unique series with ambitious storytelling and world-building prospects making it an entertaining watch. Mysticons has showcased to desire to expand in having ambitious social media, merchandising, and production plans; my only hope is that it is capable of staying on the air long enough to see it’s efforts come into fruition.

Process Post (6) Digital Literacy & Trusting Sources

From Peer Review to Plugins

Last week, my blog was peer-reviewed for its design by my fellow classmate, Jade. She suggested I try to make my pages more interactive and dynamic. “She can try plugins for carousels, or someway incorporate some movement between the site visitors and her pages/content.  I think this could really add excitement to what she has already put out.” In light of Jade’s advice and after some of my own personal reflection on the style of my blog at the time, I implemented a couple new changes. I first reformatted my social media icons, placing them into a sidebar along with three of my most recent music playlists in which I displayed as a carousel-like slider. I achieved this look by using the MetaSlider plugin. I am also currently working on a new layout for the photos I feature in my Travel category. I was using the plugin Photo Gallery to post my photos from my trip to Sechelt, but I wasn’t fully satisfied with this plugin’s features and lack of flexibility. The font for my captions was grey and hard to read, and each photo was significantly cropped unless you clicked to expand it. I decided to switch to Elementor, a much more comprehensive and visually pleasing plugin with far fewer limitations than the previous plugin I used.

 

Combatting Fake News & Misinformation

Our lecture this week was focused on confirmation bias and digital literacy, which got me thinking about the kind of information I publish online and will in the future. This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer tells us that nearly seven in 10 respondents worry about fake news and false information being used as a weapon. This is something that’s largely out of my control, as I am just one tiny personal blog in a sea Internet news and opinion sources. But I can do my part to help combat this era of fake news. How? I am not a news source website. I identify as more of an opinion and personal experience source. But by communicating with as little bias as possible, being honest and reliable with any facts I include and linking these facts to credible sources of expertise, I can build up my own credibility and genuinely become a trusted source of information.

 

In Mike Caulfield’s article “Yes Digital Literacy. But Which One?” he stresses “domain knowledge is crucial to literacy”. This goes beyond the C.R.A.P detector we discussed in class. We must consider and understand the environment which our website sources act in, and using our tools and skills, critically analyze the info online that many of us are quick to consume without batting an eye. 

 

Online Community

My process of growing my blog and developing my publishing skills continues to build each week. This week, I thought back to a concept from my CMNS 353 course on Issues in Technology and Society. We discussed five characteristics of online communities, with one that I feel is quite relevant to the knowledge I am gaining in this course. Online communities contain an element of shared resources and support. My ideal blog would foster a sense of community and be a utility resource. It would be a place where my audience was more than just that – an audience or a readership. They would be treated as members of my website who feel securely able to share their insights and experiences with one another, as a supportive exchange of resource.Through this process, social capital (the resources people obtain because of their network of relationships) is exchanged.

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