Tag Archives: essays

Do Something, Zuckerberg: The Complications of Eradicating Fake News on Facebook

Surely, you’ve heard the story. A man walks into a pizza parlour, armed with a rifle, to expose the child sex ring Hillary Clinton has been operating beneath the business. After firing a few shots, he realizes there was no truth to the conspiracy the Internet prompted him to believe. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the #pizzagate scandal showcases the damaging repercussions of disseminating fake news. Society has grown concerned about how new media affects journalism and influences public opinion. As a social media giant that thrives through the circulation of spreadable spectacles, Facebook is expected to assess the activity of their users and respond to the fake news crisis. Many argue that Mark Zuckerberg must take action to completely eradicate fake news from the platform, but the complicated definition of the term and importance of free speech online makes this difficult to do. Facebook must encourage users to exercise their digital literacy by adjusting their comforting algorithms.

The public demands Facebook to fight against fake news, as Facebook’s popularity has allowed the platform to become extremely influential politically. Facebook reaches 67% of American adults and 62% of these users retrieve news from the platform (Gottfried & Shearer, 2016). As Mihailidis & Viotty (2017) explain, “the spread of information associated with #pizzagate was propagated by a set of factors—technical, economic, structural, and content-based—that collectively support an environment where sharing and spreadable content are paramount” (pg. 444).  Facebook allows users to post their own ideas, and support or criticize the ideas of others through likes, comments and shares. The immediacy of actions on Facebook also allows information to spread extremely quickly (Tadnac, Lim & Ling, 2017). Facebook serves as an active public sphere, but this has also allowed problematic fake news stories to flourish. 

Hoaxes, propaganda, politically motivated half-truths, advertising clickbait, poorly composed stories and satire have all been referred to as fake news (Borel, 2017). What does “fake news” really mean? The term has grown incredibly complex. “‘Fake’ doesn’t begin to describe the complexity of the different types of misinformation (the inadvertent sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false)” (Wardle, 2017). The term typically refers to the fictional stories disguised as truth circulating online, but “fake news has also been invoked to discredit some news organizations’ critical reporting, further muddying discourse around fake news” (Tadnoc, Ling & Lim, 2017, pg. 138). This is demonstrated by the current US president’s tendency to constantly deem fact-checked, left-leaning journalism as “fake news” (Meade, 2017). Trump dismissed a report from The New York Times in this manner, despite the fact that “the reporting that Trump had ordered Mueller’s firing is a) deeply sourced b) confirmed — after being first broken by The New York Times — by a number of serious and credible media outlets and c) very detailed as to how and why Trump moved to fire Mueller” (Cillizza, 2018). If you do not agree with something, is it acceptable to forbid this “fake news?”

A text may be classified as fake news, but is not necessarily harmful. Alcott & Gentzkow (2017) argue that fake news should be defined as “articles that are intentionally and verifiably false, and could mislead readers” (pg. 232). The Onion is a satirical news source, and according to Meade (2017) although their content is “technically fake news,” there is no ideological or economic motive, nor is there intent to misinform audiences. The #Pizzagate conspiracy was developed to push a political agenda, while The Onion creators would be dismayed if anyone mistook their carefully crafted comedy for fact (Meade, 2017). Although The Onion has no malicious intent, it could confuse some Internet users. If comedic content has the potential to mislead someone in any way, is it acceptable to forbid this “fake news?”

Virtual platforms provide a space for non-journalists to reach a mass audience (Tadnac, Ling & Lim, 2017). Online media does not always come from acclaimed sources, and there is potential for citizen journalists to create work that is extremely biased, inaccurately framed or completely wrong. However, citizen journalism also reveals perspectives from the less powerful. Removing imperfect citizen journalism could be considered an infringement on free speech, and affect Facebook’s reputation as a public sphere. If someone is slightly misinformed when sharing their opinion, is it acceptable to forbid this “fake news?”

Despite the fact that what constitutes fake news is unclear, some stories are certainly problematic, as demonstrated by #pizzagate. As a social media giant with great influence, Facebook does have a responsibility to respond to these issues. But if a precise definition of fake news cannot be determined, it becomes difficult for platforms like Facebook eradicate content while remaining a public sphere. It has been suggested that to fight fake news, Facebook should invest in professional fact-checkers to filter out false content. However, companies like Facebook “often pride themselves on being seen as the democratic front doors for citizens by allowing editorial content control to rest, for the most part, with users” (Mihailidis & Viotty, 2017, pg. 239). As Zuckerberg (2017) declares, “in a free society, it’s important that people have the power to share their opinion, even if others think they’re wrong.” Facebook must proceed carefully when removing content, because “unless done right, these steps may create more problems than they solve — and boost claims that the “fake news crisis” is an attempt to impose political controls on the media” (Young, 2016)(Young, 2016) wonders: if Facebook became closely monitored by professional and citizen fact-checkers, would they report and remove the right content?

To attempt to resolve the crisis, removing fake news may be the least of Facebook’s concerns. Tufekci (2017) identifies another pressing issue regarding Facebook’s political influence: echo chambers. Facebook perpetuates confirmation bias by tracking the interests of each user, and programs their algorithms to promote content that compliments a user’s personal beliefs (Tufekci, 2017). “If finding truth is not as large a priority as finding personally relevant information, then what good is knowing how to critique a message in the first place? And if individuals are taught to question, critique and inquire about the credibility of media, it seems as if this technique can justify those who felt compelled to investigate the #pizzagate story in the first place” (Mihailidis & Viotty, 2017, pg. 450). According to Borel (2017), “ideological fake news lands in the social media feeds of audiences who are already primed to believe whatever story confirms their worldview.” For this reason, Zuckerberg (2017) declares that Facebook will respond to the fake news crisis by “focus[ing] less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing additional perspectives and information” as well as “the impact of sensationalism and polarization, and the idea of building common understanding.”

Due to the complexity of the term, it is difficult for social media platforms to forbid fake news while preserving the democratic functions of the Internet. I propose that it is most important for Facebook to encourage users to exercise their digital literacy by adjusting their algorithms to showcase alternative opinions and warning their users of potentially unresearched content.

Works Cited

Allcott, H. & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social media and fake news in the 2016 election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31:2 (pg. 211-236). Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/~gentzkow/research/fakenews.pdf

Borel, B. (2017). Fact checking won’t save us from fake news. FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved from https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/fact-checking-wont-save-us-from-fake-news/

Gottfried, J. and Shearer, E. (2016, May 26). News use across social media platforms 2016. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/

Mihailidis, P., & Viotty, M. (2017). Spreadable spectacle in digital culture: Civic expression, fake news, and the role of media Literacies in “post-fact” society. American Behavioural Scientist, 61: 4 (pg. 441-554). Retrieved from https://doi-org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/10.1177/0002764217701217

Meade, A. (2017) The Onion in the age of Trump. What we do becomes essential when its targets are this clownish. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/aug/28/the-onion-in-the-age-of-trump-what-we-do-becomes-essential-when-its-targets-are-this-clownish

Tadnoc, E. C., Lim, Z. W., & Ling, R. (2017). Defining fake news. Digital Journalism, 6:2 (pg. 137-133). https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2017.1360143

Tufekci, Z. (2016, November 15).  Mark Zuckerberg is in denial. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/15/opinion/mark-zuckerberg-is-in-denial.html?

Wardle, C. (2016, December 16). Fake news: It’s complicated. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/1st-draft/fake-news-its-complicated-d0f773766c79

Young, C. (2016). Who will check Facebook’s fact checkers? The Hill. Retrieved from http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/media/310849-who-will-check-facebooks-fact-checkers

Zuckerberg, M. (2017, February 10). Building global community. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/building-global-community/10154544292806634








Philippine Drug War


In May 2016, with his party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Rodrigo Duterte went from Mayor of the city Davao to President of the Philippines (Ismi, 2017). During his campaign, he sought to take heroic measures in dealing with human trafficking, poverty, corruption in government and any trace of drug use both in high state to the lowest class of men; and these persistent and powerful goals took the hearts of many Filipinos who have fallen victim to these issues under presidents before him. It was in Duterte’s face, that majority of the middle class saw possible understanding, and passion for the issues that pertain to them, that they may have felt was neglected by past officials. He knows what the people want and how to make it look convincing he’ll listen. But he also knows what he wants, and every life involved in the selling and use of drugs. His obsession with Philippine’s war on drugs, likely stems from his need for “total and undisputed control”, it is a mask that doesn’t really focus on the root of the problem but allows him to further assume dictatorship like governing. This mask proves to be a critical tool for the Duterte, aiding him in both his campaign and presidency. His unwavering confidence has come across as trustworthy and valiant, but the actions his regime have taken towards wiping out all people drug-related seem to say nothing more than a tyrant, and insanity. But it is undeniable the people of the Philippines have his support and have stuck by him through his first and second year as president. But the trusting façade have done more than just win people over, even allowing unregulated raids from vigilantes every night to take place in the country. Duterte’s presidency, the war on the war of drugs and the long-term state of the Philippines will be explored throughout this essay, to deduce whether the coverage of the president in media has had more to do with the outcome of the ongoing human rights crisis in the Philippines.


Duterte has stuck with the narrative throughout his administration of being the only president capable of solving the nation’s problems; focusing on efficiency and quantity over much else. He uses his magnifying ego and terror tactics to overcompensate for his lack of understanding into what could otherwise be done for the methamphetamine crisis; which affects every walk of life from citizens dealing in the slums to officials placed in government and military themselves. “My order is shoot to kill you,” Duterte began on August 6th in 2016, one of his many controversial remarks, which ended with “I don’t care about human rights, you’d better believe me.” (Demick, 2016). But despite the hostility, and lack of empathy of his people, he is still sustained by the support of the people. In a poll done by the Social Weather Station between December 8-16, 2017, a net satisfaction (most satisfied percentage minus dissatisfied) of 70% in Filipinos were tallied. This statistic broke a record previously held by Noynoy Aquino (SWS, 2017) and according to National Public Radio, “Third quarter data tells us that 7 to 8 out of 10 Filipinos continue to support the war on drugs” (Raphelson, 2017). We are unable to deny Duterte was put into office by the ballots of Filipinos. But may question his propaganda, the reality of the regime against narcotics that are thriving under his government. The media has taken its time to cover the crime and killings that have rampaged the streets, most seem to discuss the absurdity and treachery of the president and outcome of the war. But with anti-drug groups going about on their own raids and agenda, it’s hard to tell whether the public is being exposed to the full truth, the full numbers and the real side of the president.


The gap between putting an end to the inhumane ways of clearing drug use in the Philippines and allowing things to continue (and possibly get worse) may be the truth. To understand who exactly is at the hands of carrying out the arrests and executions is to know that the President handed these responsibilities to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the military (Ismi, 2017). Although being told otherwise, the police have used kept their foot in the door of those both persecuting drug users and dealers; having to compete with the masked and armed vigilante. These groups work under the nose of the President, who

“appears to have instigated unlawful acts by the police, incited citizens to commit serious violence, and made himself criminal liable under international law for the unlawful killings as a matter of command responsibility,” (Tan,2017).

Duterte inexplicitly promotes violence and injustice in his anti-drug campaign, by disallowing any other option other than force and death to end the war on drugs. Through the numbers and activity, these groups and soldiers may be succeeding, all because the president has left no room to think of the premises the drug user might have had to fall into the trap of narcotics. The reported numbers are staggering “at least 2000 suspected drug users were killed…as well as overcrowding of prisons”, accomplished in just under 3 months of the war on drugs (Macarayan, Ndeffo-Mbah, Beyrer, Galvani, 2016). A rounding of recent numbers estimates that since Duterte has been in power look like “over one million drug surrenders (pushers and users), 40,000 arrestees, and 6000 persons killed, with 2000 due to police operations and 4000 to extrajudicial killings” (Barrer, D. 2017). What isn’t being reported, that have to do with the high number of extrajudicial killings, is the corruption and bribery involved between ties, connections and relationships between those at the highest of the drug cartel to the poverty victim plagued by drugs. To better understand how police officers, who seem so relentless to catch any involved with possession and dealing of drugs- are the ones most susceptible to making deals with drug cartel; is to understand the long practice and cultural normality for police officers to work with criminals to gain profit from the position. The police officer agrees to target the people under these drug lords instead of suspecting them, for money. As Duterte entrusts his campaign with the police and military, it is flawed simply because their actions have done nothing other than to prove the existing system thrives no matter what regime they work under. This also proves true for what party governs the Philippines, as “the failure of the liberal democratic order to deliver popular empowerment and the wealth redistribution”; it was with the past government’s inability to address the problems most important to the middle and lower class that stressed their desire for Duterte’s passion (Ismi, 2017). Duterte served as “the image of a strongman who would get rid of the ‘national chaos’ and a ‘socialist’ … though he does not seem to understand what socialism is.” (Ismi, 2017). His disregard for human life and mercy, are what the Philippine community is now suffering the consequences of.


At which point will Duterte say enough? Is it possible to say he holds any capacity in his arsenal to do so? His pride and power may show no other future in the rest of his six-year term other than what has been going on ever since it began. There must be transparency between the police, military, and government with the public; so, the public is not trusting blindly, or out of fear. It will be through reformation of the deeply rooted system that allows injustice for profit, and opportunities for drug addicted to testify and rehabilitate. The voices of those wrongly murdered, accused and robbed of children, siblings and parents must be heard; and through thorough, courageous and honest journalism and news in media will we be forced to act.



Demick, B. (2016, August 26) Rodrigo Duterte’s Campaign of Terror in the Philippines. The New Yorker. Retrieved from: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/rodrigo-dutertes-campaign-of-terror-in-the-philippines

Ismi, A. (2017, March 1) We are talking about a fascist regime. The Monitor. Retrieved from:http://content.ebscohost.com/ContentServer.asp?T=P&P=AN&K=121620732&S=R&D=a9h&EbscoContent=dGJyMMTo50SeprA4y9fwOLCmr1Cep65Srqa4TLOWxWXS&ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGrtE%2Bwp7RRuePfgeyx44Dt6fIA

Social Weather Stations: Statistic Advocacy (2018, Jan 17) Net satisfaction rating of the Duterte National Administration rises to record-high “Excellent” +70. Retrieved from: https://www.sws.org.ph/swsmain/artcldisppage/?artcsyscode=ART-20180117160545       Raphelson, S. (2017, November 13) Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte Sustains Support For Deadly War On Drugs. National Public Radio. Retrieved from: https://www.npr.org/2017/11/13/563841402/philippines-rodrigo-duterte-sustains-support-for-deadly-war-on-drugs

Tan, L. (2017, March 3) Duterte encourages vigilante killings, tolerates police modus– Human Rights Watch. CNN Philippines. Retrieved from: http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/03/02/Duterte-PNP-war-on-drugs-Human-Rights-Watch.html

Hassan Majeed, M., Ahsan Ali, A. (2018, February) Genocide in the Philippines Asian Journal Psychiatry. Volume 32, Pages 27-28 Retrieved from: https://www-sciencedirect-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/science/article/pii/S187620181730206X

Macarayan, E., Ndeffo-Mbah, M., Beyrer, C., P. Galvani, A. (2016, December 10-16) Philippine drug war and impending public health crisis. The Lancet. Volume 388. Page 2870 Retrieved from: https://www-sciencedirect-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/science/article/pii/S0140673616324680

Barrer, D. (2017, December) Drug War Stories and the Philippine President. Asian Journal of Criminology. Volume 12. Issue 4. Pages 341–359. Retrieved from: https://link-springer-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/article/10.1007/s11417-017-9253-x



Essay #1

Fake News and the Real World

Almost half of the world population owns a smartphone (Edge, 2016). This means two things: 1) billions of people now have instant access to worldwide news and 2) billions of people can now contribute to the news, thanks to social media (Macedo, 2016). In the United States alone, two-thirds of Americans get at least some of their news directly from social media (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017). This is cause for concern. Since social media platforms allow facts (i.e. news reports) to be so easily meshed with opinions and ideas (i.e. comments from, and external links provided by, news consumers), it is difficult to ascertain what news is real (Macedo, 2016). If one cannot identify fake news, then what exactly are people basing their real world knowledge and opinions on?


According to the Pew Research Center, almost 25 percent of Americans have, both purposely and inadvertently, shared made-up news stories, (Bialik & Matsa, 2017). But why is this the case? It could be for any combination of the following three reasons:


First, poor digital literacy may be to blame. According to British Columbia’s Ministry of Education (n.d.), digital literacy is “the . . . ability of individuals to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access . . . analyze and evaluate information [as well as] construct new knowledge” (para. 2). If the majority of people have poor digital literacy, then it is no wonder that false news stories are being shared – people cannot (or simply do not bother) to critically think about the news that they are consuming. For instance, even I am guilty of sharing false news stories with friends because I am sometimes too careless or lazy to read the entire news article or evaluate the source of the article. In other words, I do not think before I share.

Thus, blog creators like myself should keep this in mind – we should not exploit those with poor digital literacy for our own benefit.


Failing to read news articles in their entirety is another possible explanation as to why false news stories are shared. The instant nature of social media platforms, and the Internet as a whole, has an impact on how we operate. People mindlessly scroll until something catches their eye; people like sensational stories (Macedo, 2016). As Borchers (2016) explains, “Many news sites draw large portions of their audiences from Facebook, so the temptation is to try to create content that seems likely to be shared and liked over and over” (para. 12). Thus, people may be more drawn to short and sweet (and scandalous!) headlines without bothering to check out the contents of the article. In our fast-paced world today, who has time for the long (but probably more accurate) news article?

Again, blog creators should post responsibly. It is okay to have catchy headlines and titles, but they should not ever purposely mislead the audience.


Macedo (2016) writes that, “social media . . . allows the audience to interact more with the news presented to them. It allows them more than just the facts to float around as different people can comment, research and discover things as knowledge is passed” (para. 2). While this collaborative nature can prove useful, it is also not hard to see how facts can be confused with opinions. Look at any given Tweet or Facebook post linking to a news story and you will most definitely see a bunch of comments, from various individuals, offering contrasting points of views and linking to other sources. Linking back to the issue of poor digital literacy, it is no wonder that fake news is being spread – people may be overwhelmed by all the facts, opinions and links under any given news article.

To relate this to blog creators, blog creators should use their discretion. Perhaps when sharing facts, comments on certain posts should be turned off so as to not have false and/or misleading information be provided by one’s readers.


The average user is likely unaware of the fact that what they see on their news feed is highly personalized based on their activity on any given social media platform. As Shinal (2018) writes:

What people see on Facebook . . . depends on what they search for, who their friends are and what [they have] viewed before (para. 1).

The result? An echo chamber in which we consume the news that we want to consume; the news that we are exposed to through social media is arguably, curated towards us individually. We, thanks to the algorithm, will more than likely see what we want to see. This is where confirmation bias comes into play – we will believe x, and therefore interact with a social media platform in a way in which the algorithm will pick up that we have views that line up with x and, consequently, we will be exposed to articles which support x. For any given news piece, we are being exposed to a certain perspective based on how we have interacted with our social media.

It is thus clear that good journalism is important; journalists should “remain true to the impartial and trustworthy notion of delivering news and allowing readers to think critically and form their own opinion” (Macedo, 2016, para. 8). This is much more difficult to achieve when people are getting their news from social media platforms, in which our feeds are, more often than not, personalized for us.


Unfortunately, even when a news story is identified as false, it may still shape people’s attitudes (Marwick & Lewis, 2017). For instance, the recent Parkland shootings have been very prevalent in recent news. A news story that was quickly spread throughout social media claimed that David Hogg, a Parkland shooting survivor, was a paid “crisis actor” whose purpose was to spread anti-gun propaganda (Murphy & Mezzofiore, 2018). While this claim has since been disproved, it is not to say that people’s attitudes (in this case, towards gun control) have changed. Such fake news has real world consequences; consequences that we may not be able to see until they have played out.

Thus, it is of utmost importance that publishers pay attention to what they are posting and sharing, this includes blog creators like myself. In relation to KIM KIND OF COOKS, I do my best to ensure that I am not spreading false information regarding nutrition and health. I know that I am not nearly educated enough to provide such information, and so I refrain from doing so. As the creator of this blog, I have the responsibility to do my best to not create (nor spread) false information, as such information could be shared beyond my reach.


Bialik, K., & Matsa, K. E. (2017). Key trends in social and digital news media. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/04/key-trends-in-social-and-digital-news-media/

Borchers, C. (2016). How Facebook can influence the news, not just share it. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/05/22/how-facebook-can-influence-the-news-not-just-share-it/?utm_term=.0e2df49e4df9

Edge, A. (2016). Social media and the changing face of conflict reporting. Retrieved from https://www.journalism.co.uk/news/social-media-and-the-changing-face-of-conflict-reporting/s2/a654955/

Macedo, M. P. (2016). Why social media is so crucial for 21st century journalism. Retrieved from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/social-media-crucial-21st-century-journalism

Marwick, A., & Lewis, R. (2017). Media manipulation and disinformation online. Retrieved from http://posiel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Media-Manipulation-and-Disinformation-Online-1.pdf

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Digital literacy. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/teach/teaching-tools/digital-literacy

Murphy, P. P., & Mezzofiore, G. (2018, February 22). How the Florida school shooting conspiracies sprouted and spread. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com

Pew Research Center. (2017, August 7). Digital news fact sheet. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/fact-sheet/digital-news/

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

Shinal, J. (2018, February 22). Florida shooting shows how hard it will be for Facebook to solve its fake-news problem. CNBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com

Are we nothing but characters in Facebook’s everlasting puppet show?

Although the rise of social media is a topic we’ve all grown accustomed to acknowledge, we’ve turned a blind eye towards how much power it holds over us. The magnitude of the exponential growth of people who now receive their news through new media such as the internet is astonishing. This can be seen through some recent statistics collected by the Pew Research Centre of which their findings indicated that 39% of Americans get their news from social networking sites and 59% get their news from the internet (Mitchell, 2018). The Internet has become a fast, reliable source of news for most Americans as it has ever so recently replaced the modern newspaper. However, there is a problem hidden within getting our news from this new media that we never had to worry about encountering with newsprint.

Despite the internet being a faster way of getting news, one thing we haven’t been considering is the excessive amount of confirmation bias behind the inner works of the algorithms that provide this information to us. A recent article written by one of the earliest investors in Facebook, Roger McNamee, warns us about the magnitude of bad actors who play a part in these manipulative algorithms that take place on Facebook. Throughout this article, McNamee claims that the Russians took advantage of this system to create filter bubbles where you are solely exposed to posts and news associated with your political agenda according to your personal interactions with Facebook. This has been claimed to have had a direct impact not only towards the 2016 presidential election but brexit as well (McNamee, 2018). This was done throughout events such as the flood of anti-clinton memes a and fake news during the 2016 presidential election. Equally throughout the increase of “Leave” posts created and distributed by Russian bot accounts during Brexit.

Furthermore, Facebook has been known as non-neutral force in electoral politics as the power it holds has been evident since 2012. Likewise, as the Atlantic states in their article What Facebook Did to American Democracy “The potential for Facebook to have an impact on an election was clear for at least half a decade.”(Madrigal, 2017) While considering the previously stated fact indicating that 39% of Americans get their news from social networking sites, we can see that this makes things a bit problematic. As Facebook is one of the most used social networking sites in the world, most people tend to get their news from what’s on their newsfeed. An example of this power hidden within Facebook can be seen in the event of their implementation of their “I voted” button back in 2012. According to The New Republic, users who were informed on their newsfeeds that their friends have voted were 0.39% more inclined to vote themselves. This caused a ripple of an increase of 340 000 votes that day, 60 000 of which Facebook directly mobilized. (Zittrain, 2014)

Many might ask if Facebook knows about this design flaw and if they have been taking advantage of it. The answer is an obvious yes. Fake news solely exists as it’s jaw-dropping clickbait articles make money and from what we’ve learned, Facebook’s newsfeed optimizes for engagement and controversy creates waves of engagement. (Lewis, 2016) The algorithms put in place are solely there to promote engaging articles that are associated with your personal interests, which makes manipulation of the masses a lot simpler than previously thought. On top of that, as people are less inclined to check their sources and read an article before sharing a clickbait article, this increases the amount of fake news circling around causing a potential of nationwide controversy. This can be seen throughout huge controversies such as the pope endorsing Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

In conclusion, as we’ve explored the power social networking websites have over us, we can now realize we should be more inclined to step back be a lot more vigilant towards what we read and access on the internet. This includes fact checking and analyzing our sources critically before sharing and distributing articles and posts on Facebook. We are equally more inclined to be more vigilant towards the content we are exposed to as it has not only been proven to change public opinion but have major effects on presidential and governmental elections which can be seen throughout the 2016 presidential election and Brexit. The only solution we seem to have against these algorithms is to question everything.



Essay 1

Addressing Fake News: A Collective Responsibility

The rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube has revolutionized how news is created, spread, and consumed. The 2016 election incited widespread debate regarding the role that fake news may have played in the election of Donald Trump. Fake news is a contested term, but generally refers to a range of false or misleading information spread online and in the media (Marwick and Lewis, 2017). According to the Pew Research Center (2017), 67% of Americans reported viewing some of their news on social media, which translates to a 5% increase from 2016. Overall, Facebook was the top source of news with 45% of users viewing news sources on the platform. To the extent that fake news influences public opinion and that online sources are viewed as legitimate, these statistics may be seen as highly concerning.

There is no conclusive evidence regarding the exact influence of fake news on the results of the US election; however, the rapid pace at which fake news spread during the election raises important questions for individuals as both consumers and publishers of news online. For example, does the onus rest on individuals as publishers and consumers to fact-check when posting, reading, liking, and/or sharing? Or does the responsibility lie with those behind the platforms? There are no clear-cut answers, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that the online structures that we know, or at least we think we know, may be “being used against us – all of us – in systematic and automated ways” (Bridle, 2017). As a result, we should all be concerned and share the responsibility for evaluating content that is published online – at both the individual level, and the level of the social networks.

Fact-Checking and Analysis: Our Responsibility as Publishers and Consumers

If users must rely on Facebook to fight against misinformation, then perhaps society is facing a much larger issue than fake news. It is unfeasible to expect that Facebook employees, for example, will be able to read every post and check every fact prior to publication. Moreover, networks like Facebook are currently shielded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (Thompson and Vogelstein, 2018). Therefore, Facebook has its own interests at stake – if the platform were to start editing content, it would potentially lose the protection afforded by the Communications Decency Act. It is also important to note that there is a degree of bias inherent in almost all news articles that are posted online even if all of the facts within individual articles are correct. Therefore, relying on social media networks to flag and remove misinformation would solve part of the problem, but it would not nurture the knowledge and critical thought required to assess news sources that may not be patently false, but that are published to promote certain ideologies. Individuals must bear at least some of the responsibility of filtering and assessing content.

According to Richard Proctor, misinformation spreads when individuals do not understand a concept, and when special interest groups work to create confusion regarding an issue (Proctor as cited in Kenyon, 2016). If Proctor’s claims are true, then education, transparency, and open discussion reflect concrete ways to counter misinformation. Mike Caulfield (2016) notes that no set of guidelines or criteria can provide individuals with the tools required to evaluate online sources. Rather, Caulfield (2016) argues that individuals must use both knowledge and digital skills to “understand the various ideologies and internet cultures that underlie a lot of what they see online” – a feat that no amount of Facebook monitoring can provide.

Admittedly, I have difficulty identifying bias and misinformation in articles, and I am someone who has had the opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education. The use of social media as a news source is such a recent phenomenon that it has yet to be addressed in most classrooms. In order to keep up with an increasingly technological era, the formal education system should place a stronger emphasis on using knowledge and digital literacy to assess news online.

Beyond the Individual

Unfortunately, humans are not infallible, and access to education is limited. It would be naïve to assume that all users will have the tools and knowledge required to effectively assess sources online. Moreover, it is important to note that online structures may, in effect, exploit human cognition. For example, confirmation bias is a form of cognitive bias that describes how individuals search for and interpret information in a way that confirms their preconceptions while dismissing information that does not. In my own experience, I gravitate towards articles with titles that are in sync with my own beliefs, and I also tend to share those articles. Conversely, when I come across an article that is not congruent with my beliefs, I will skim over it and rarely take the time out to read it. Although this is not deliberate, it illustrates how easily misinformation can spread, especially when writers use catchy headlines that will appeal to beliefs held by a large audience.

Some academics argue that “echo chambers” may occur when individuals surround themselves with people who have like-minded views (Pariser, 2011). Within the context of echo chambers, fake news and confirmation bias become particularly problematic – if misinformation is in sync with an individual’s views, then that individual may be more susceptible to accepting that information as true. A study conducted at Stanford found that fake news stories during the election were shared and tilted in favor of Donald Trump (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017). Confirmation bias provides an explanation for why individuals who supported Trump were more susceptible to the influence of pro-Trump news stories.

It is clear that users cannot address the issue of fake news alone. However, the extent to which social media platforms can (or even should) address the issue is murky. Recently, Facebook has taken an active role in addressing fake news by boosting certain publishers whose content is “trustworthy, informative, and local” (Thompson and Vogelstein, 2018). Moreover, Facebook has been developing algorithms to minimize publishers whose content is fake, while elevating content that is informative. Although the issue is far from being fully addressed, these are significant strides in the right direction.

Moving Forward

The online realm is driven by political, monetary, and ideological incentives, and these motivations may be at odds with the best interests of society. This issue is only further cemented by the use of trending topics and algorithms that dictate what users are most likely to see on their feeds. The issue of fake news runs too deeply to be addressed by a single social network or individual. In a post-truth era, there is no way to tell what the future will look like. As of right now, it looks a little frightening. Perhaps what is more frightening is that I do not know exactly what can be done about it.


Allcott, H. & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social media and fake news in the 2016 election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211-236. doi: 10.1257/jep.31.2.211

Bridle, J. (2017, November 6th). Something is wrong with the internet. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2

Caulfield, M. (2017, December 19th). Yes, digital literacy. But which one? Retrieved from https://hapgood.us/2016/12/19/yes-digital-literacy-but-which-one/

Kenyon, G. (2016, January 6th). The man who studies the spread of ignorance. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160105-the-man-who-studies-the-spread-of-ignorance

Marwick, A. & Lewis, R. (2017). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. Data and Society Research Institute. Retrieved from https://datasociety.net/pubs/oh/DataAndSociety_MediaManipulationAndDisinformationOnline.pdf

Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: What the internet is hiding from you. Leeds, UK: Penguin Books

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

Thompson, N. & Vogelstein, F. (2018, February 12th). Inside the two years that shook facebook – and the world. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/inside-facebook-mark-zuckerberg-2-years-of-hell/

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.




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.

Assignment #1

[Interesting hook] With technology becoming the future of the 21st century, social media has become the largest viewing platform with users all around the world. Almost everyone is enthralled with these new mediums of communication, whether they are platforms for sharing your thoughts, family vacation photos, or temporary pictures to your friends. [Thesis] With many active users, social media easily allows the dissemination of fake news articles and advertisements to anyone exposed. Fake news spreads like wildfire across the internet especially with the sharing capabilities of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. [Ex/para 1] There is a tendency for passive content reception on social media due to the established ties between the users. [Ex/para 2] This, mixed with the sharing capabilities of — the now used for news–Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, enables fake news to spread like wildfire. [Ex/para 3] Additionally, social media companies use algorithms to generate a feed that the user would be more interested in; this leads to a larger spread of deceitful facts. The fact that mostly everyone in the world uses social media allows companies to influence users in what they want to see.


[Intro conclude//Intro to what comes next] “as i said above and will explain below, is why [my thesis] The growing audience from all different types of social media platforms and the ability to share anything allows news to be disseminated in an instant making others believe it. As the viewers are vastly increasing on social media, the new sources on different platforms online are becoming less reliable.


[Ex/para 3] While online news was the beginning of “like-minded citizens forming echo chambers and filter bubbles” (Gottfried), the content being shared around social media is now a concern. It is important to realize the companies are known to sell the user’s information to advertisers (Barrett 11). With that being said, platforms try to develop their news usability by having investments over the last year with big news sources. However, the platforms use algorithms to do most of their digital business, depending on the user’s interest. With the algorithms used to establish what users view on different platforms, the views of publishers are being overlooked. There is also the concern that opposing viewpoints and important information are being ignored due to these algorithms. One of publishers’ most significant challenges today is getting noticed in a sea of distributed content on social media.  Younger audiences also prefer algorithms choosing their news instead of real editors allowing “fake news” to influence viewers. Real publishers are being ignored due to the increasing amount of ad blockers and audiences that don’t care where their news comes from (Kapko 14). The larger social media platforms such as Facebook allows news to be spread with no editorial judgement, fact-checking, or no significant this party filtering.


[Ex/para 1]-peer pressure,


[Ex/para 2]Not to mention, the growth on sites such as Twitter, gain more attention because of the “daily attention from the president’s posts” (Gottfried).  Facebook is the leading social source of news consumption, and it is the primary news source for 44 percent of survey respondents who use social to find news, followed by YouTube, with 19 percent, and Twitter, with 10 percent. (Kapko 14) The attention increases the amount of viewers and the influence it has on everyone. People who often do not read the news, specifically younger uneducated viewers, are being influenced by the exaggerated news articles being shared all over the platform. The number of users who use social media as a news source are significantly increasing easily fooling anyone with fake news articles. In fact, ”Incidental exposure to online news is becoming a major way for many people to receive information about news events” (Seymour).


[Conclusion] All in all, 1) because trust between friends, 2) algoritms bASED ON interest of the users, 3) because many people use large social media outlets as their news source,…[thesis]. [something u found interesting, or just point out/ highlight a cool fact] Everyday the amount of people is increasing, and if we follow this trend, it seems that no one will know what’s real anymore.


The news being shown towards a social media audience, allows advertisers to show what they want the society to see. PROPAGANDA. Everyday the amount of viewers are increasing on all different social medias. People are eps As the viewers are vastly increasing on social media, the new sources on different platforms online are becoming less reliable.

milktea for the seoul 2018-02-26 20:01:24

most people use social media to get news

In the age of new media, it is common to find that many people receive their news through social media.  News disseminated from social media can be characterized by immediateness, one-sidedness, fragmentation, subjectivity, and triviality (Sveningsson, 2015). Sveningsson emphasizes the centrality of media technologies in the everyday life as the root of convenience for news reception on social media. The smartphone allows for the immediate information access, which enables the general masses to consume news quickly. However, news reception on social media comes at the cost of holistic and objective information.

Sveningsson brings up the concepts of active selection, which he defines as “actively choos[ing] between news and information depending on [one’s] personal preferences”, and passive selection, which he defines as an occurrence when “factors other than active choice lead to a similar pattens of selective exposure”  as intrinsic to the patterns of content exposure on social media (2015). News on social media primarily follows a passive selection model in which friends and acquaintances have control over the content that one is exposed to. People in the same social circles tend to have similar opinions. There is often only a singular perspective that circulates among individuals. As such, masses are faced with incomplete and extremely biased news – this poses as a danger because people are left to form opinions with somewhat inaccurate information as a result to the lack of exposure to all sides of the story.


why? convenience?

News awareness connotes responsible citizenship. As such,

Hermida et al. (2012) also found that their respondents were twice as likely to prefer news links and recommendations on Facebook and Twitter that came from friends and family, as compared to those posted by journalists or news organizations. The opportunity to add comments to the news link is another aspect that adds value

While Marchi’s (2012) informants experienced conventional news as boring, repetitive, and irrelevant to their daily lives, “the personal connections with friends and family in social networks served as news ‘filters’, bringing various stories to the teens’ attention and helping them understand their relevance via posted commentaries”

Wells (2014) found that while dutiful citizens display more passive media consumption styles, actualizing citizens expect to take part in the production and sharing of information.


What makes social media a unique platform for news is the ability it affords citizens to now act as efficient content distributors, and it is necessary to understand if and when people disseminate news in this digital environment.

While interest in social media in relation to politics is increasing,4 the field retains little understanding of how various elements of the social media experience relate to one another in shaping how citizens consume and share today’s news.

Reception is consumption of news content, akin to traditional exposure,5 while friending is the act of establishing a formal link between oneself and another entity within a social media environment.6 Dissemination is sharing news content with a defined set of others (either specific groups within one’s social network or the social media public). It is argued that reception and friending serve as positive predictors of social media news dissemination,

why is this bad? algorithms –> echo chambers

Roger McNamee is a technological investor, who served as Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor during Facebook’s primitive years. In his article “How to Fix Facebook – Before It Fixes Us”, McNamee points out that the current algorithm of social media platforms like Facebook create dangerous echo chambers. These platforms show customized content based on each consumer’s interest, thereby reinforcing the pre-existing beliefs of these users. In his 2011 Ted Talk, Eli Pariser, a renowned internet activist, defines a filter bubble (an online echo chamber) as a one’s online space, in which personalized news and information are presented.  McNamee echoes Pariser’s sentiments in his article by saying that, “everyone sees a different version of the internet tailored to create the illusion that everyone else agrees with them” (2018). Pariser asserts the necessity for a version of the Internet that not only caters to personal interest, but one that “show[s] [audiences] things that are uncomfortable or challenging or important”.

With the mechanisms of filter bubbles, and their prevalence on dominant websites like Facebook, ideas and beliefs are no longer challenged. People have the tendency to stop looking for further information once they come across relevant information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs; coupled with Facebook’s current algorithms, the outbreak of misinformation, and the government’s desire to propagate, masses can become susceptible to adopting extreme yet false beliefs because they passively accept any information that may reinforce their pre-existing ones. Masses then become contained in the illusions of their subjective truth.

I think this concept is harmful to a society that should be constantly striving to be open-minded. It reduces people’s opportunities to think critically for themselves. The algorithms decide what content masses are exposed to, and to some degree, how masses are supposed to think. The algorithms essentially make masses vulnerable to unfiltered propaganda.

why is this important

News awareness creates the sense of “informed citizenship” and is often associated with being a conscientious member of society (Sveningsson, 2015). However, I think news dissemination on social media platforms, where filter bubbles and echo chambers are highly prevalent, creates instead a false sense of informed citizenship. People only receive

Marshall McLuhan famously claimed that technology should act as extension of ourselves. Technology should enable should humans to enhance their capabilities and to do things beyond normal human capacity. As such, the accessibility of information, and therefore, news, should allow masses to become the as informed as they can possibly be. On the other hand,

The psychology behind confirmation bias states that people have a tendency to stop looking for further information once they find specific information that confirms their pre-existing beliefs. As such, with the limiting boundaries of filter bubbles, people are left to form opinions based on incomplete information. The algorithms function to strengthen these beliefs.

In his article, McNamee gives a call to action to programmers – the people behind social media platforms – to fix the algorithms. He treats masses like mindless robots who lack agency and are incapable of critiquing the media that they consume. To an extent, I agree with him that the programmers are at fault. Filter bubbles are transparent and often, we do know that we are trapped inside However, I also believe that we must become educated consumers. We must learn to pop our filter bubbles. While McNamee outline several plausible solutions for this issue, I think that as consumers, we must change the way we obtain news. We must not settle for news that cater to our interest, but expand our horizons by reading news that also discomforts us – I believe that, at this age of news of dissemination through social media,  it is only then that we truly become informed and responsible citizens.


Looking Back on the Semester

This class taught me a lot about not only publishing, but also about myself.  My experience as a publisher this fall was definitely a positive one.  At the beginning of the course, I was hesitant to put my work out there.  I am very self conscious when it comes to my creative projects, writing and photography included.  As a perfectionist, I hate posting work that I am not one hundred percent happy with.  My blog helped me with my insecurities, and improved my writing abilities as well!  The main reason I took this course is because I wanted to see how different blogging would be to the social media sites I use daily.

When I first created my blog, I struggled right away with choosing a theme that I felt best represented the layout I had pictured.  Right away, it was clear that you have more control over your content on your blog compared to your Instagram or Facebook.  I wanted my theme to be simple, yet not blend in with other blogs like Travis Gertz mentions in his article about design.  In his article, he talks about why mainstream posts have all been similar lately.  He mentions that in a connected world like ours, it is hard to not give in to pressures of copying what is popular.   To be honest, I feel that I could have done a better job at making my blog unique.  It is still something I am working on.  The next part of the course focused on audience awareness.

When using my social medias, I never thought deeply about who my audience was.  I would post what I wanted, whenever I wanted, not thinking about what impact it had on those seeing it.  This blog was interesting because I wanted to make content that both my audience and teacher enjoyed.  Using google analytics, I found out that the majority of my audience was from Canada.  Considering that I had promoted my blog on my Instagram, I assumed that most of my blog readers were the same people that followed me on Instagram.  In his 2002 article, Warner describes my goal for this blog perfectly.  He states that content on a blog should be relatable for both the audience and the creator.  As I said before, most of my blog readers are my followers from Instagram.  I believe I have achieved this because prior to blogging, I already knew through comments that my audience liked my Instagram.  I tried to reflect the same personality on my blog as well.

I read an article recently titled ‘Blogging Is an Art But Attracting the Right Audience Is a Science’.  This article talks about how important it is to be consistent with your online identity.  Being consistent ensures that you can not only attract the audience you want, but also maintain that audience.  This is something that I struggled with, as I went in to the class not knowing exactly what I wanted my blog to be about.  I am passionate about many things, photography, hockey, and reading just to name a few.  It was hard for me to pick one of these passions and create a whole blog about it.  Overall, I believe that my online presence is consistent.  My blog posts are cohesive and reflect who I am as a person.

Another interesting part of the course was the lecture on monetization.  As I mentioned before, I created this blog mostly so that I could have an outlet to express myself.  For right now, I don’t think monetization is right for my site, as I post content mostly for myself.

Looking back at the semester, my view on publishing has had a major shift.  Before this semester, I thought the word publisher only applied to those who worked in the publishing industry and created monetized content.  However, this course taught me that social media has turned us all in to publishers.  The way in which we distinguish ourselves from everyone else is through the quality of our content.

In the future, I plan on continuing my blog and challenging myself to produce more content than I did this fall.  My goals for myself after this course are to continue building on my online identity, and incorporating my audience more.  Soon, I plan to look back at which of my posts were the most viewed and I will tweak my future posts accordingly.  I want to continue blogging so I can look back on my posts in the future and see how my photography skills have evolved.


Travis Gertz AuthorTravis Gertz is both a designer and partner at Louder Than Ten. He went to school to design magazines, ended up designing apps, and now does everything he can to bring those things together. He is not a machine.@travisgertz View profile. “Design Machines.” Louder Than Ten, 12 Apr. 2017, louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines.

Dholakiya, Pratik. “Blogging Is an Art But Attracting the Right Audience Is a Science.”Entrepreneur, 1 Dec. 2014, www.entrepreneur.com/article/240280.

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics (abbreviated version). Quarterly Journal of Speech, 88(4), 413-425.


Essay 2

Throughout the semester in Publication 101 classes and creating my own blog, I have learned a number of things in terms of content creation, audience, design, and many more.

When I created my blog back in September, it was difficult to settle on what I want my website to be about. When I finally decided to make my website focus about my faith and experiences, I was then burdened with having to find an appropriate theme and design for my website. It was difficult as the question I always asked myself before selecting a theme was “do I think the theme is a good fit with the identity of my blog?” I ended up settling with the theme Hestia as it was a simple theme and would fit my blog well.

When I first thought about who the audience of my blog will be, I thought of having everyone to be part of the potential audience as people who read my blog would read through my content as food for thought. However, as the weeks passed, I came to understand that the people who will take the time to read my blog will be those who are looking for something in their lives are have gone through some time of adversity because an aspect of my blog focuses on overcoming challenges, obstacles, and struggles.

As the semester moved onwards and looking into the feedback from peer reviews, a question that came to me was “who do I want to be to my audience?” It was because my blog lacked the identity of the person behind it, similar what John Suler says in his article, The Online Disinhibition Effect about invisibility and anonymity. As I know vulnerability is part of what builds trust, I took the advice and added a couple photos of myself to take away the lack of identity of the author.

In terms of design, I choose to not do much with what has been provided from the theme I went with. This is because I enjoyed the minimalistic look that came with the theme. It was also because I felt that the theme that was provided was a neat, organized design and does not have much clutter on the pages. I found that it was also very simple to use and my first thought of it was that it is something that would be very easy to navigate around. However, what I really like about the theme was the white spaces that comes with it. As I learned in class about the importance and effectiveness of white spaces, this design was perfect for my blog.

The idea of “white space” is also something that will stick with me after the semester ends, not just when I think about online content, but with any form of designing I do. As a business student, knowing how to attain the audience’s attention is a major goal. So, according to Mark Boulton, knowing how to use white spaces effectively will “give your readers a head start, position products more precisely, and perhaps even begin to see your own content in a new light” (Boulton, 2007).

There was also some interesting information from my Google Analytics. According to Ginny Mineo, the average user spends approximately 15 seconds on website before deciding whether or not it is worth their time to stay there. However, in my Google Analytics, I found that the average session duration on my website to be about four and a half minutes. Although I am sure that not everyone who visited my blog found the content to be worth spending a lot of time reading about, the information that Google Analytics showed reminds me that there is still a group of people who is interested in what I have to blog about whether they end up reading only one post or if they have kept up with me throughout the semester.

I am not too sure about where I will be in terms of blogging after this semester as I find that it is not exactly a passion of mine. Because I do not see it as a passion, I feel that if I continue to blog and try to commit to it, it would feel more like an obligation instead of something I do for own enjoyment. However, as a business student, I have expressed interest in the field of marketing. If I do end up deciding to concentrate in marketing as a career, I believe that the work I would be interested in doing would be similar to what the things I have learned in Publication 101 classes such as, customer analytics, creating content to market to the public, being involved in social media, and many more.



Boulton, Mark. “Whitespace.” A List Apart – Whitespace. 2007. Accessed November 25, 2017. https://alistapart.com/article/whitespace

Mineo, Ginny. “55% of Visitors Spend Fewer Than 15 Seconds on your Website. Should You Care?” Hubspot – 55% of Visitors Spend Fewer Than 15 Seconds on your Website. Should You Care?. July, 2017. Accessed November 25, 2017. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/chartbeat-website-engagement-data-nj

Suler, John. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Psychology of Cyberspace – The Online Disinhibition Effect. 2016. Accessed November 25, 2017. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html#status.


Looking Back: PUB101

Heavily influenced by online creators of our generation and their work, I’ve always wondered about what it would be like if I had my own audience that enjoyed the content that I created. Of course, I’ve had my doubts and thought about who in the right mind would actually be interested in what I deliver. My doubts and worries grew stronger every time a possibility came up to the extent that I’ve convinced myself that being a well-known online creator is mission impossible. But that got me thinking about if being an online creator is only about getting famous. Does one need a following in order to be considered an online creator or publisher? Is it not possible to create for yourself and only for yourself? Well, I’m actually not surprised that I only think about the fame because I’ve been shaped by watching many influencers on YouTube. Seeing how luxurious their lives are and watching their followers grow makes me want to give it a shot too, just for the monetary value aspect. And it’s not only influencers on YouTube, there are full time bloggers that make a living out of it and at a first glance, it does seem like an easy job. Having said that, I honestly think that it can be toxic at the end of the day. As Shelby Carpenter writes in her article about The Toast shutting down over ad revenue woes, the battle for online revenue is harsh and it affects big and small mediums of the like (Carpenter, 2016). Sometimes when money is involved, it takes the pureness and authenticity away from what you are publishing because you’re putting out content just for the purpose of driving revenue. Looking at how far I’ve made it into the semester and this course in particular, I think I’m finally learning the means to be an online publisher.

Thanks to PUB101, I was able to start something that I’ve always wanted to but scared to do it. The anxiety of having people read the work I put out is just overwhelming and being the shy person that I am doesn’t help at all. I never found an outlet where I could comfortably express myself so I grabbed onto this opportunity to start something new! My blog, Be Right Back, is a lifestyle and travel blog. Obviously for the course requirement, we all had to create our own blog. That was the starting point for me. To be honest, I think people who wants to start something and haven’t gotten the guts to, just need to have that kick starter in order to take off in their journey. Like in Thorn’s post (2012) about making it into the media world, he stresses the first point for “Absolutely, Positively 1000% No-Fail Guaranteed Success” (Thorn, 2012), is to start now. Nothing can be accomplished unless you start making stuff now. And his last point: do a good job. We have to keep learning and keep trying. Even if we fail, those failures will eventually turn into successes. Our brains are capable of understanding our own weaknesses and we can use this to make better decisions.

I want to say that the audience that I have been imagining for my blog is exclusive from myself and more to entertain and influence a demographic that I attract with my travel related posts. But looking back to what I’ve created so far, I believe that I’m publishing for myself and I am my own audience. My blog has become a diary for me to document my life adventures and even if I’m not attracting any readers, I feel like I’m still passionate about my travels and it’s enough for me to continue posting. But to be honest, it’s hard to not be consumed by the competitive nature of the online space because if everyone is doing the same thing, how do you make yourself stand out? There are thousands of travel blogs out there and it is still growing day by day. We have the tendency to compare ourselves against other people but we shouldn’t base our lives on their values. Instead, the only opponent that is worth going against is yourself. In Herbert Lui’s article (2016) about competing with yourself, he states that “you can chase your future self” (Lui, 2016). I agree with this notion because you are not building your game plan for other people, you are allowed to personalize it to fit your own ability and make goals based on that.

My blog is pink themed. As much as I want to cater to everyone’s interest, I still want to maintain what I love and have a piece of my identity into the theme. I can definitely imagine myself looking back to the blog in the future and reminisce about the time that I got to do such a fun project for a university course and I’ll also thank myself for documenting my adventures so the memories will still be fresh in my mind. If I do gain an audience then it’s not just about me anymore. If that is the case, then I want to portray myself as a close sister of my readers or the sister that they never had. I want my blog to be valued as an informative yet entertaining domain and I wish to build a strong relationship with my readers where they can rely on me and on my content to have a better experience in their life adventures. The best way to interact is to integrate social media platforms as a tool to communicate. This semester, we’ve talked a lot of social media and as mentioned before in one of my process posts, I think actively using the Twitter app as a way to promote and share my blog can really help my blog flourish.

Throughout this semester, I have been keeping track of my findings in Google Analytics. As expected, most of the users are from Canada with a few occasional ones from the United States of America, Russia, and India. Through this, I’ve learned that success does not happen overnight. You can’t make a blog and wish for it to attract readers and gain a following the next morning. Of course, the only readers are my classmates and professor of PUB101. It’s hard for people to discover something that is not advertised or shared.

Looking back, I’ve definitely looked past on the complexity of publication during the beginning of the term. I wasn’t aware of the technical elements that were required to run a blog and I definitely wasn’t aware of its impact. From the theme of the blog to the content that I created, every single detail has its own impact and while it’s easy to overlook them, the reaction from the audience says a lot on its own and it reflects the current trends and shows what people are drawn to when it comes to content. I definitely want to continue on with my blog for my own purposes, as a diary that I can look back on. My online presence as of now is quite underwhelming, and while I don’t wish to work on elaborating it anytime soon, I do wish that I can make it a challenge for myself and work on my online presence in the future.


Carpenter, Shelby. 2016. “The Toast Is Toast: Literary Humor Site Shuts Down Over Ad Revenue Woes.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/shelbycarpenter/2016/05/13/the-toast-is-toast-and-its-devastating/#44854347c877

Lui, Herbert. 2016. “You Should Only Compete with One Person: Yourself.” Herbert Lui: Thoughts on Life, Psychology and Culture, HerberyLuinet, herbertlui.net/you-should-only-compete-with-one-person-yourself/

Thorn, Jesse. 2012. “Make Your Thing.” http://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/

A Letter To The Publisher

When first starting this website, I had a very clear image in my head of how I wanted it to look. Crisp white spaces and sharp lines, a minimalist aesthetic. I even played with the idea of having it entirely in black and white. But seeing something in your head and translating that image to a computer screen is not an easy feat. In fact, when you have little to no technical skills, it can quickly becoming an overwhelming task. This was probably my biggest challenge in regards to creating my online presence. I don’t know how to write code, customizations were difficult and don’t even get me started on plugins. With this in mind, I quickly realized it would have to be my content that spoke loudest in order to personalize my online presence. And boy was that an adventure.

It took a painful number of hours to look for the perfect theme, keeping in mind that my customizations would be minimal, I knew I needed to find the perfect canvas to showcase myself. From there I decided that colour was going to be required, I wanted my pictures to be a main attraction, bright greens from a forest, crystal clear blues of a glacier pool, these needed to have the added pop of colour to properly convey the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and to contrast against a blank white background. Naturally, I want my website, an extension of myself, to be aesthetically pleasing, but what does that really entail? Aesthetic is a funny thing, denotatively it means a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty (Bradley, 2014), key word being beauty. But what about this instances where aesthetics go too far? According to some, it’s much easier to happen than you think. When not done in moderation, the aesthetic that was meant to delight viewers instead annoys them and drives them away (Bradley, 2014). So not only am I trying to make my publication attractive with the content to back it up, but I am also concerned with excessive, quite the balancing act. And this is before publishing my website to be critiqued by an actual audience.

I wanted my website to be a place for people planning on visiting the area to get ideas on what to do but also to be a place for locals to go and fall in love with their home again. In this sense my audience was quite broad. In reality, according to Google Analytics, I really don’t have too big of a following outside of the Pub 101 class. But that’s not discouraging, as I continue to post I’m hopeful word will spread, I already have double digits in the organic search results so that looks promising. Not many comments yet, but I’m optimistic that will change with the more I post, something I review will eventually strike a chord with someone who is familiar with it and compel them to comment. (Fingers crossed).

Through my posts highlighting all this beautiful area has to offer, I am hoping the people reading them will find ways to fall back in love with this place, whether it’s their home or their home away from home or a strange place they have yet to visit, my goal is for people to read through my publication as a love letter to the city and hopefully stir something up inside themselves for it as well. The value this website will provide is strictly non monetary. I think posting advertisements or doing paid reviews would take away from its genuinity, and that is the last thing I want. My website is a reflection of myself and what I love, I do not want to cheapen it down just to make a couple dollars. Moreover, I wouldn’t want to lose the trust of the few readers I have. If I am being relied on to provide honest feedback and reviews about areas in and around Vancouver, I don’t want there to be a sliver of doubt that I am doing it for any benefit other than for the good of the Pacific Northwest.

At the beginning of this term, I didn’t think too much of my online presence, in fact I barely used social media other than the occasional Instagram post. I saw websites as a marketplace for well established corporate businesses or tech savy individuals. But as best said by Chuck Cohn, “[Everyone] will eventually have to take on the challenge of creating a website, a social media account or another online presence” (Cohn, 2015). At some point, we all have to take our brand online. Your brand is all about who you are but more importantly, what you want to be known for (Muse, 2012). Whether it’s your personal brand or a business brand, what you present about yourself will indicate to others who you are and what you are, you want to make sure that’s a positive inference. You want to have a positive online presence and refraining from all online activity doesn’t send that message. This course not only taught me how to best present myself online but also reiterated the importance of publishing yourself.

Here’s hoping I’ll be talking to someone other than myself as I continue my love letter.



Bradley, S. (2014). What role do aesthetics play in the design of a website?. Vanseo Design.

Cohn, C. (2015). A beginner’s guide to establishing an online presence on a budget. Forbes.

Muse, T. (2012). The first step to building your personal brand. Forbes.


Essay 2

For more than five years, I have been posting about my daily life on my favorite social media platform – Instagram. However, I private most of my social media accounts because of my insecurities with sharing my life publicly on the internet. Only friends and people I know well are able to browse my Instagram or Facebook contents. Through this course, I have this opportunity to jump out of my comfort zone and create a blog website about my thoughts on personal wellness. The blog is for anyone who is open-minded to accept new ideas improving their lifestyle. Although I am still discovering new concepts about personal well-being, I would love to share my journey and experiences with my readers.


I tend to have a different online image and real life image. John Suler mentioned in his article that we express ourselves in different ways in different environments. (Suler, 2004) Through articles I wrote so far, readers may think that I am an open-minded individual that loves trying out new things. But in real life, it requires a lot of energy and motivation for me adapting to a new lifestyle. Based on Suler’s idea, both online and real-life image are dimensions of who I am revealed in different situational context. My website aims to motivate people improving their lifestyle, therefore creating an online image who is optimistic and passionate could convince readers to try out my suggestions. Relating to the insecurities I mentioned, altering self-boundaries is another explanation for setting up a different personality online. According to Suler, personal boundaries are the experiences of a flexible perimeter marking the distinction between my personality – my thoughts, feelings, and memories – and what exists outside that perimeter, within other people. (Suler, 2004) As a person with a high self-boundary, I prefer creating an image for myself, so that I feel more comfortable sharing personal content publicly online.


Designing my website is the part I enjoy most. Starting off with a theme I select through WordPress, I immediately realize that the theme’s style does not match with the vibe I want to bring out to my audience. The process of customizing colors, layouts and font style allows me to create the ideal website I have in mind. Able to create customization for your own website is important. Design is not a game of catch-up, it is an intelligent pursuit of finding unique formulas that help you to stand out. (Gertz, 2015) Using the same theme provide by WordPress or copying other website’s design does not show your passion and fails to attract your audience at first glance.


The data collected from Google analytics gives me insight on how my audience behave and how to improve my website. I had a relatively high bounce rate at the beginning, but after I changed the navigation menu, it dropped from 57.14% to 34.88%. I am delighted to see how small changes could bring amazing improvements to my website. Data trails provide valuable information to website owners. (Pod Academy, 2016) I believe that when my audience pool grows through time, I would be able to receive more and more insightful data from Google analytics. The data I receive could give me ideas on how to engage with my audience and learn which topic is their favorite.


Unfortunately, I haven’t been receiving a lot of comments from my audience. But the peer reviews provide me some constructive suggestions and give me inspiration on how to modify my website. In the future, I would like to put in more effort encouraging my audience to leave comments about their opinions. I would also love to stir up some discussion and create a platform for my readers to interact with each other.


Looking back at the beginning of the term, I had changed quite a lot about how I feel about self-publication. I got a lot more confident in writing about my ideas and thoughts online. I understand more about how people define their online presence and how they behave on the internet as well. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to meet all guest speakers that provide me professional ideas and suggestions for putting together my first website. Before, I thought that self-publication was simply pressing the ‘post’ button but now I learn that there are all sorts of strategies and theories behind publishing online content. Looking forward, I am not sure if I want to continue with this blog or not. The reason is that I have developed another idea in mind that I am more interested to work on. But still, the knowledge I learn from this course is vital for me to elaborate on my online presence in the future. 


Suler, John. 2004. “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. 


Gertz, Travis. 2015. “Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse.” July 2015. 


Pod Academy. 2016. “Digital breadcrumbs: The data trail we leave behind us.”


From the beginning of the semester to the end

Essay #2

I remember on our first class, we were expected to come up with a theme for our blog. The only time I really tried blogging was when I tried Tumblr in high school and lost interest after a couple weeks because my blog wasn’t going anywhere and I could not stick to a theme. I thought of how I did not engage in any activities frequently enough to be blogging about weekly, so I decided to safely proclaim the blog was about my life in general. My life always had something going on, but I did not partake in the same activity consistently. Hence, Suzanne mentioned to me that my online persona was “consistently inconsistent” and was she ever right.

I have read some blogs, but I was never curious about having one myself, so I assumed it was quite simple. I just had to write posts about my opinions, experiences, have photos, make it aesthetically pleasing and interesting to read. People would come by and read your content if it was relevant to what they were looking for.  Similarly, Chittienden (2010) described blogs as “online diaries [that] represent a popular space for teenagers to write about their experiences and instantly publish their thoughts to the web with minimal technical understanding”.

However, after a few blog workshops, I realized there was so much more to blog posting “behind the scenes”. To potentially monetize off your blog, you had to brainstorm marketing strategies to appeal to your ideal audience, use key words to make sure your blog appears in relevant searches, have an original theme and design, as well as track your analytics to monitor your site growth and activity.

I never liked writing argumentative essays because I believe that I do not possess strong opinions in general. That is why I chose to talk to my blog audience about things relative to me, so I could talk intimately and casually – something I am most comfortable with. I realized it would be easiest for me to post if my online persona portrayed the way I am offline. Even though social media is just highlighting the best qualities of yourself, maintaining “multiple personas” and “performing your identity” (van Dijck, 2013) online seemed too tiring and hard for me to keep up with. I mostly imagined my audience to be my friends or peer group, I don’t really think about what kind of strangers around the world might be reading my posts. After posting this way frequently, I don’t believe I will change my style. It seems to be the easiest way for me to write posts without it seeming like a chore. It is hard to tell who my audience is from my peer group, but it is easy to tell which posts attracted the most activity. For example, when I posted about my hike in Squamish, there was more activity than usual. This was most likely locals or tourists who are thinking of doing that hike, or looking for hikes in that area. Otherwise, in general my site does not get a lot of passing traffic. I think I prefer it that way though.

While I agree with Boyd (2014) about using social media to “[engage] with [the] broader social world,” I never liked having information about me available to everyone floating around on the internet. I keep all my social media networks private and only share things with a limited audience or a select few individuals, and I think that is why I was never interested in having a blog. But if I were to continue my blog now, I would completely change my theme. If I am posting publicly, I don’t want to post anything too personal and I know I have a few posts on my blog about some of the places I’ve been to, and I would get rid of those. Seeing my blog now, I have the easiest time and the most posts about a superfood that I am very interested in. Moving forward, if I were to continue my blog, I would probably change my theme to healthy eating and food only. My blog would then be a lot more focused but still connected to my personal life without revealing too much of myself. At this moment my food posts are short; I would like to make them more detailed if that is going to be my sole focus. Perhaps I could add more fun facts, reasons why that food is a superfood, how I like to eat it, etc. I tried to add more facts about the food in my latest kombucha post since I couldn’t really suggest ways to drink kombucha.

Even with all these new ideas, will I even continue to blog? Now that I have gotten a taste of it, it is kind of fun. It can be tedious and a lot of effort to tinker with HTML and formatting, but it is an effort I don’t mind doing. However, I know bloggers are expected to post somewhat frequently, probably at least once a week. I remember one of the reasons I stopped using Tumblr was because it was too much work to re-blog every day in attempt to maintain and gain new followers. Additionally, blogs are a lot of effort when it comes to monetization, targeting audiences, and just working with Google Analytics in general. I feel like trying to monetize off your blog and attract new audiences is just too much to handle for me since I am not completely dedicated to blogging. It looks like the future for me in blogging doesn’t look promising. However, in one short semester, I already feel like I made a lot of realizations about my blog and how I want to handle it. If I have the blog for the rest of the year anyway, I don’t see the harm in giving it a shot.

Thanks PUB 101, it was fun.



Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. It’s Complicated, 213-227. Link.

Chittenden, T. (2010). Digital dressing up: Modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere. Journal of Youth Studies, 13(4), 505-520. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13676260903520902

Van Dijck, J. (2013). ‘You have one identity’: Performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn. Media, Culture, & Society, 35(2), 199-215. DOI: 10.1177/0163443712468605

The Life of Pip: An Analysis of PUB 101

The Life of Pip: An Analysis of PUB 101

Over the past semester, I have learned so much about the blog sphere, from content creation to audience development, and in doing so, I have gained an appreciation and interest in blogging as well. It has been quite a fun learning experience, with informative lectures and in-depth tutorials. Incorporating guest lecturers with experience in publishing was a great asset to the course because it took us students one step further, rather than relying simply on experience. Hearing their experiences regarding Google Analytics, advertising, typefaces and design was very helpful when developing my own blog.

The First Step in the Creative Process
Deciding a topic to focus on for the entirety of the blog and course was not all that difficult for me. I knew immediately that I was going to incorporate Pippen, my four-year-old Golden Retriever, as I usually do with school assignments. He is by far, the most fascinating being in my life, which makes writing about him even easier. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to incorporate Pippen in some way because the content was already there, it just needed to be fleshed out.

Registering domains in the first week of class was very helpful because it gave me a strong sense of freedom over what content I was about to post. Having one’s own domain gives the user more say over their public profile and digital identity. They have more control over how their website looks and what they share publicly (Watters, 2015). It allowed me to take more time and consideration to brainstorm ideas about what I wanted my website to be about and to put thought into the name because it is, in some ways, the first impression that the consumer has with the blog.

Theme and Audience
The Life of Pip is meant to document the daily adventures of Pippen, his nightly walks, and the ultimate joy that he brings into my life. During one of the earlier process post activities, I laid out the website through the vision board activity. This helped quite a lot because it made it easier for me to visualize my ideas and thoughts about my blog, like having a page for the gallery of pictures and another for my stories of Pippen when he first came into our lives.

In addition, I wanted to make sure that the blog was lighthearted, because for me it was about letting loose of all the daily struggles of life and reading these adorable stories about a big fluffy energetic dog. The best way for me to do this was to change the post category titles like, “Pictures,” and “Pub 101,” to “Piptures,” and “Pip 101,” which I was actually advised by your son. After all, the blog was being targeted to animal lovers.

For me, it was not about looking smart or making a point to seem intellectual, it was focused on bringing the readers into Pippen’s daily life. It was for the animal-loving readers who do not have animals to hear the experiences of someone who does or for those who already have or had pets before and wanted to hear of experiences of someone with a crazily energetic dog. I did not want to target a certain age group because being an animal lover has no age restrictions. There was also no target gender either, as being an animal lover has no gender restrictions. Now that I think about it, being an animal lover has no restrictions at all.

The Public
According to Habermas (Fraser, 1990, p. 58), the public sphere is made up of people who would meet up to discuss their common interests. The imagined public of The Life of Pip are the animal-lovers and owners who got their first pets later on in their teenage years and earlier on in their adulthood, similar to myself. In my opinion, these types of readers are likely to resonate most with my content because of the possible similarity in our experiences, like the keeping up with school and managing the responsibilities of an adult, also known as “adulting.”

The real audience of my blog are those in my social network or in the social networks of people I know, who may have heard from my friends and family about the blog. They could potentially be reading my posts on the basis of supporting my endeavors, or even just reading up on some funny stuff regarding animals.

Addressing the Audience
I address my audience through my easily understandable and enthusiastic vocabulary and phrases, as well as the content, editorial layout of the featured images and posts, and the overall design of the website, like the color scheme and widget and view configurations. The overall use of easier words and chronological arrangement of the sentences makes for the story to be better understood and perceived.

Content development is not all that easy and it requires a lot of copyediting work in addition to the layout and design (Gertz, 2015). Prior to entering the blogging sphere, I thought that blogging was very easy because of how the media portrays it. It is made to look as if there is no editing and that it is straight from the mind to the page rather than all of the other key components like the integrated media, the layout ideas and the overall editing process.

When it came to developing the look of my website, I made sure that the editorial layout was minimal but impactful because as a reader, I don’t like seeing too much on the screen. By this, I mean that I did not want the pages to be cluttered with content but I also did not want for the sidebars to be empty. Throughout this entire process, I have used my own experiences as a reader to guide my website development because in addition to listening to the guest lecturers like Mauve Page, I also understand how the reader, consumer, and viewer feels because I am one myself when I choose to go on the web.

The Value
My blog gives users and readers insight into what me and my family experience with Pippen. In writing and editing this blog, I feel that I am helping other dog owners who may also be experiencing the same things. I also think that I am giving my readers the value of respect and responsibility because I talk about my own struggles with my brothers and the division of responsibilities. To me, it is a bout understanding each other’s feelings too, to ultimately view the experience from everyone’s perspective.

Google Analytics

Observing Google Analytics was a turning point for me in the course because I started to realize the importance of spreading the word about my blog especially considering how much time I have put into the content, layout, and design. I started spreading the word more and not just through text like before. It provides so much feedback regarding my audience like their location, the times at which they viewed my blog and for how long they viewed it. I found that Google Analytics proved to be such a useful tool for my blogging experience because it did all the talking for my audience so they didn’t have to.

Reflecting on the Course
Prior to this course, I thought that content creators were not deserving of a pay because they were not really doing much. However, I was very surprised because I began to see how hard they must work when they are blogging because there are so many factors in the process like editing, creating original content, remixing content, maintaining the layout, reaching out to your readers, and much more. Nonetheless, managing this cycle of work is very difficult because many of the factors depend on each other to work successfully.

Building a personal cyberinfrastructure allows users to develop a sense of self and identity throughout the digital age (Campbell, 2009). Creating my blog, posting original content and designing the layout gave me a sense of personal identity in the digital sphere. I was able to express my thoughts and feelings through this personal cyberinfrastructure that I had worked so hard to build.

I also realized how hard is to flesh out content because you have to take your overall idea and go full steam ahead. While doing the process posts, it became easier for me to understand what my blog was about, who it was intended for, my goals, and the process by which I was going to achieve them.

Goals for the Future
I hope that once my blog has more content and has a more fleshed out design and layout, that it attracts a larger audience outside of my social network. Currently, all of my readers are apart of my social network, whether they are friends, family, or co-workers. I want to expand from my network to a group of readers who are more interested in the content and not me or my interests. I want for the content to speak for itself and for the readers to keep coming back to read about Pippen.

Also, I want to work harder to make the layout more robust and better designed because I am still not fully satisfied with it at this point. This course has been a split between design and content for me, as I have spent each week working on perfecting both to the best of my ability. Although I feel that my content posting has gotten really better, I still think that the design of my website could still use some work. I edited each of the featured pictures for my original posts on Photoshop so that they all have a paw print in the bottom left corner and a frame inside the border. By doing so, I feel that I was able to add a sense of originality to the design, one that my audience could pick up on.

Once this course has ended, my primary goal is to continue posting at least once a week because this course has taught me that by sticking to a routine, I find that I keep myself in check and do not become lazy. By sticking to a weekly posting routine, I can guarantee that there is always new content on my blog, which is likely to appease my audience. The freshness of content will assure my readers that I am attentive to their needs and that whenever they check my website, there is always at least one new post.

Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review,44(5), 58-59. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure.

Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. Social Text, (25/26), 56-80. doi:10.2307/466240

Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). Design Machines: How to Survive in the Digital Apocalypse. Retrieved from Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need to Give to Students. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x

Warner, M. (2002). Publics and Counterpublics. Quarterly Journal of Speech,88(4), 413-425. Retrieved from http://knowledgepublic.pbworks.com/f/warnerPubCounterP.pdf

Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need to Give to Students. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.4d7j8rs6x

Essay 1 (Oct 17)

Social media has not always been what it is today. Facebook, for example, was first launched in February, 2004 to university students in eastern parts of the United States. By the end of 2006, Facebook has become available to anyone with a registered email address. Ten years later, Facebook is no longer just a social media site that connects people. It has become a way for people to advertise, make money, gain attention, and disburse information and also receive information. With a large amount of people on social media around the world, it is easy for everyone to receive the same information in a short amount of time. Although the speed of which information spreads can be seen as an advantage, there are, however, some drawbacks of having information spreading quickly. According to a survey done by Facebook, there are over one billion daily users on Facebook in 2017 and is growing every year (Facebook, 2017).

With a large network, some people see this as an opportunity and take advantage to make personal gain. This creates changes for people who create genuine content, spread noteworthy news, and collect credible information on the internet in today’s time.

When someone creates content to be put online, they always have some sort of intention to make something public. Some may have the intention to make money through advertisements. This is most seen with an article that has headlines similar to “You Won’t Guess What Happens Next” or “Seven Secrets Doctors Don’t Want You To Know”. The creator’s intention is to attract curious viewers to click on the link so that they will be exposed to advertisements. Because of click baits and fake news circulating the internet, viewers are now more reluctant to click on links and advertisements as they see advertisements are not trustworthy for a variety of reasons as outlined by a survey done by the Advertising Standards of Canada.

Because there is significant distrust for digital content, creators would find themselves in a more difficult position to build a good online reputation. Eric Sachs, however, provided his insights about building an online reputation in the Entrepreneur Magazine with his article “How to Build Your Online Reputation” (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290927). He first talks about the effectiveness of using blog posts to publish and provide readers with “tangible, actionable solutions to relevant issues”. Sachs then goes onto talking about social media and that it is important to engage with your audience, as it will “inject some humanity into your social media accounts. Sachs finally goes into talking about public perception and managing online reputation. He says that a strategy is to pursue reviews from people, because “if you can convince 10 people who had fantastic experiences to leave reviews, your overall online reputation won’t take such a massive hit after a negative review”. It is obvious that in the twenty-first century, distrust in digital content has become an issue to creators, however, there are ways to overcome distrust and create a strong online reputation.

Fake news also has the ability shift people’s perspective on a particular subject. Such is the case during the 2016 United States presidential election, where social media and the dissemination of fake news had a major impact. With the low cost of creating a social media account, it gives more encouragement to create malicious user accounts that can be used to spread fake news. According to a survey done by Morning Consult, 78% of respondents use Facebook as a source for news (Morning Consult, 2017).

This makes Facebook a very sought-after market to spread any information whether it is true or false. In Hunt Allcott and Matthew Gentzkow’s journal article “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election”, it was estimated that among the 248 million American adults, there was “38 million shares of fake news…[which] translates into 760 million page visits, or about 3 visits per US adult” (Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017). However, it is important to know that social media follows like-minded people, and thus, one will see content on their newsfeed that they favour. For example, for a committed Republican supporter of the election, he or she would see more content that is pro-Republican. Another similar concept is called selective perception, where a person would believe content that aligns with what they believe and ignores all opposing viewpoints. Selective perception has become a way of how fake news is spread around. When one person believes in a fake article because it aligns with their own beliefs, they are more than likely to share it with others, thus spreading fake news. It is true that social media has, in some ways, taken over our minds by feeding us what we want to see, but it is by human nature that we react a certain way towards certain news compared to others.

With the emergence of fake news in our internet, looking for decent information has also become more difficult. Often times, when people go look for information, they only look at the credibility to determine if the information is good. However, creators of fake news have found ways to make their articles look more accurate than what they actually are. Some news articles make themselves look more professional by quoting an expert or referencing to a past study, and people would automatically select that article without thinking twice. However, it is important to assess many more issues when determining whether a piece of information is good. Relevance is one thing to assess as sometimes background information may not be in a similar context as the news given. Recency is also important to assess because results from a survey can change over a lengthy period of time. Thus, if a news article, for example, refers to a survey that was done ten years ago, it would be a good idea to question the accuracy of the news article. Ensuring that the information collected is good information can be the difference maker in one’s own reputation.

In conclusion, social media has completely changed the way how news and digital content is created, disseminated, and collected. The uprising of fake news has blurred the lines between what is real and what is fake. Social media has altered the way for people to fully verify if the information is good. It has hidden information from people by personalizing the content to the specific recipient. And finally, fake news social media has required creators to put in more effort in order to build a strong, positive online reputation.


Advertising Standards Canada. (n.d.). Leading reasons why consumers perceive online advertising as not trustworthy in Canada as of January 2015. In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/472391/canada-reasons-for-not-trusting-online-advertising/.

Allcott, H., & Gentzkow, M. (2017). Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(2), 211-236. doi:10.3386/w23089

Facebook. (n.d.). Number of daily active Facebook users worldwide as of 2nd quarter 2017 (in millions). In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/346167/facebook-global-dau/.

Morning Consult. (n.d.). Frequency of using selected online news sources in the United States as of July 2017. In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www-statista-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/statistics/706177/online-news-sources-frequency/.

Essay 1

Reliability of Social Media News

Contrary to the popular idea that only the young generation would read news on the social media, PEW research center reports that the social media platform become major news sources for over half of the Americans age 50 or older. (Shearer & Gottfried, 2017) In fact, Twitter and YouTube are two of the most favorite social media people use to receive news updates. However, social media is not a reliable source of news and users should not only rely on it to get news.

News and opinions on social media are not filtered or validated by the website before posting. It is easy to express your opinions on social media, all you need to do is type in the text box and hit the post button. Apparently, Twitter or Facebook do not consider whether true or false before publishing the things you type. Thus, it is extremely easy to publish fake news. Besides, the news outlets aim to draw in readers. Due to competition with other media news sources, publishers are likely to post their stories once they obtained information without precise validation. Experts explained that Google’s search results are able to detect the links that have more views and move it up to the top of the page. (Roberts, 2016) This facilitates fake news from gaining exposure when more and more people click on it. Most people assume that Google is a trustable source for searching news. In fact, Google’s searching algorithm increases the chance leading people to false news, which tricks them into believing what they read from “top searched” websites are true.

Receiving news from social media websites could cause confusion and panic among readers. Social media allows users to create and disseminate digital content, however, it also provides a convenient platform for hoaxes to spread like wildfire. After the Las Vegas shooting happened, a number of rumors or false accusations were circulating on the internet. This includes wrong identification of the gunman and victims. The New York Times reported, “Social media has been a tangled web of users expressing legitimate concern for missing loved ones and pranksters polluting social streams with fakery.” (Qiu, 2017) Social media users tend to believe what they read without questioning its reliability. Especially during dire times, users may panic and share breaking news they receive through social media. Their intention is to spread the word, reaching out to the victim’s family but they unintentionally share misinformation along the way. This relates to the user’s awareness of the source of news. A respondent from a study claimed that he does not pay much attention to the reputation of the news publication while reading the news. (Curry, 2016) This shows that many users would not bother to confirm the source before sharing the post they read. Consequently, resulting in spreading confusing and irrelevant news on the internet.

News from social media can narrow your viewpoint. What kind of post you would most likely to scroll through or read is tightly related to the algorithm the social media website uses. Most of the social media websites choose an algorithm that sort posts which relate to user’s previous readings or posts that the user’s friends had read or liked before. According to lead author Nic Newman, social media users have a higher chance to overlook other perspectives if they allow algorithms to choose news for them to read. (Wakefield, 2016) Social media work as an echo chamber to many users. People would prefer to participate in environments where their opinions are continually supported. University of Southern California clinical professor Karen North claimed that confirmatory information is important to many people, they want their opinions to be reassured by like-minded people. (Wakefield, 2016) If social media users constantly receive bias opinions through the echo chamber, they may eventually strengthen certain beliefs. Users may also neglect the importance of looking at the whole picture which consists of different viewpoints. Therefore, social media plays an important part in shaping the public opinion that brings a certain amount of impact to the society. As a news source, any media should publish content that is fair and without bias.

Although social media is the most convenient and popular way to read the news, people should not entirely rely on it. The echo chamber shapes opinions on social media but users are suggested to consider and respect other opinions as well. Users are reminded to be aware of whether the news source is reliable or not, and they should check on other reputable news websites before sharing any news that they receive. By doing so, we could stop misinformation from spreading on the internet and minimize the negative impact of the fake news.

Works Cited

Curry, K. (2016, September 30). More and more people get their news via social media. Is that good or bad? Retrieved from Washington Post: https://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=.3f072802d11e#comments

Qiu, L. (2017, October 2). False ISIS Connections, Nonexistent Victims and Other Misinformation in the Wake of Las Vegas Shooting. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/02/us/politics/viral-claims-and-rumors-in-the-las-vegas-shooting.html

Roberts, H. (2016, December 10). Google made changes to its search algorithm that unintentionally made it vulnerable to the spread of fake news, sources say. Retrieved from Business Insider UK: http://uk.businessinsider.com/google-algorithm-change-fake-news-rankbrain-2016-12

Shearer, E., & Gottfried, J. (2017, September 7). News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017. Retrieved from PEW Research Centre: http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/#fn-64440-1

Wakefield, J. (2016, June 15). Social media ‘outstrips TV’ as news source for young people. Retrieved from BBC: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36528256

Essay #2

This semester may be coming to an end yet, my online publication will go on. Over the last three months, I was introduced to the world of online publishing and given a chance to create a place that was solely mine – sukhisthename.com. It became a place to share my favourite recipes, new beauty regimes, and […]

Essay #2

Going into PUB 101, I honestly had no idea what to expect. When I first heard that we were going to be making our own blogs, my first thought was “cool!” My second thought was “what the heck am I going to blog about?” In order to figure out the theme of my blog, I found the vision board to be very helpful. I essentially took my interests and combined them with my personality traits to discover that I wanted to create a blog about nature, incorporating my reflections and thoughts into my various adventures and sights. One of the very first things we learned and were encouraged to think about was the idea of a personal cyberinfrastructure. This was a way to think about our blogs as areas of the web where we are building our own webs, resources, tools, and personal connections without pre-existing templates (Campbell, 2009). What I took away from this is the importance of creativity and not being afraid to try new things when it comes to my blog.

When I first established my blog, and after making my first couple of posts, I will be honest, the idea of an ‘audience’ was the farthest thing from my mind. In the beginning, I made design and content decisions without considering anything else expect my own opinions. However, once we started discussing the idea of publics in class, I then began to consider who my own ‘public’ might be. My (imagined) public is individuals who enjoy nature as I do and thus may find enjoyment through reading about my experiences. I feel that I am addressing this audience by trying to keep them in mind and staying true to my blog’s theme when making my posts. If there was an abrupt change in what I started to blog about, this would go against my audience’s expectations and may drive them away. The value that I believe I am providing is thoughtful and meaningful insights into nature-related topics that may be enjoyed or shared by others. I had decided against incorporating ads into my site through Google Ad Sense, as I felt that my blog did not need advertising due it being more of a personal reflection blog. In fact, I think that ads may have actually turned audience members away, as they may feel betrayed by an attempted monetization of a personal reflection platform.

The incorporation of Google Analytics provided me with a whole new perspective on the idea of audiences. I have been completely fascinated by the ability to see so many details about the make-up and behaviour of the users that visit my blog. Looking at the entire history of my viewers, there are some interesting statistics to note. I installed Google Analytics at the end of January and for the first month, I never had more than a couple sessions per day, with page views being relatively low as well. However, in March, I can see a significant spike in page views and sessions, with 33 page views on March 7th and 43 on March 21st specifically. Also on March 21st, I had 9 sessions, which is the highest I have had in one day. Upon closer examination, I can notice a clear correlation with the timing of my posts and the corresponding increase in views/sessions. This was something that I learned to focus on as the semester progressed, and it has prompted me to think deeper about my content. The location of my audience in overwhelmingly in Canada (with the majority in BC). However, 20% of my sessions have been from the United States and I have also had some from India and Russia. In looking at audience behaviour, my most popular post by far is my essay on fake news. Interestingly, this was the post that gained quite a diverse audience in terms of location and language and there was a significant spike in traffic around the time that I posted it. My topic was relevant to the current political climate and I incorporated many embedded links so these may have been contributing factors. Finally, in terms of acquisition, the majority of my users found my site through direct. The second highest was organic search and I had 11 from referral. I was surprised to see an overall increase in the amount of organic searches for my blog. I think this is due to my consistent timing of posting and constantly using words like ‘nature’ and ‘happiness’ within my posts.

I only have a few comments on my blog and they are solely from Susanne and other class members. I highly enjoyed reading these comments and it made me want to put more effort into my posts. I do wish that I had received at least a few comments from people that I did not know; however, I am pleased to know I at least gathered a somewhat diverse audience through analyzing Google Analytics, even if they did not comment.

One of the most important aspects about keeping a blog is design. Over the course of the semester, I learned more and more about design practices as well as the importance of it. In class, we learned the idea of affordances, which is where things are intuitively designed so as to afford easy use (Kaptelinin, 2013). This was an important idea in shaping how I laid out my menu and categories; I went back and forth many times about this before I settled on my current layout. I find that design is a continual learning process – you are constantly tweaking things here and there, learning what does work and what does not work. Oddly enough, I learned a lot about design for my own blog through doing the peer reviews. I think that through critiquing elements of someone else’s blog in order to analyze what works from an audience perspective, it makes me think about my own design through the same lens. Often times, I turned to online resources in order to help me figure out how to accomplish specific things that I wanted to do. For example, to make link open in new tabs, I turned to this post which walked me through the process I needed to go through.

My overall thinking surrounding my blog has definitely changed from an inward-focus to more of an outward-focus. As mentioned above, I did not used to consider my audience when making posts or undertaking design decisions. However, as my blog gained more traffic, I started thinking more about writing to a perceived audience. I also began providing more embedded links in posts so that those who may be interested in learning more about a particular topic or in reading my other posts could have the opportunity to do so. I have not currently decided if I want to continue my blog past the end of the course. At first, my intention was to only maintain my blog for as long as required. However, now that I have put so much time and effort into it, I am considering keeping it.

I have learned so much through creating and maintaining a blog. PUB 101 has proved to be immensely valuable. Digital skills are so important today and I know that I can take the skills and knowledge that I have learned throughout the semester and apply them to future jobs.




Barnes, A. (2016, May 17). How to open external links in a new tab on your WordPress site. (Web log). Retrieved from https://allyssabarnes.com/open-external-links-new-tab/

Campbell, W. (2009). A personal cyberfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review, 44(5), 58-59. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Kaptelinin, V. (2013). Affordances. In M. Soegaard & R. F. Dam (Eds.), The encyclopedia of human-computer interaction (2nd ed.). Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/book/the-encyclopedia-of-human-computer-interaction-2nd-ed/affordances

I Am: Confident

Confidence a Virtue, Vulnerability an Issue

My entire life I’ve been lucky to have a strong baseline of confidence. From a young age I knew that regardless of my appearance, I was valuable, important, and worthy of love. This can only be credited to my parent’s incredible words and values they have taught me over the years; I sure as hell know it wasn’t society’s doing. 

Growing up confident has been an incredible blessing for me, and I fully acknowledge my privilege in my upbringing and positive view of myself. That being said, I will explore in the next couple paragraphs the bumps in the road I’ve encountered that I credit to this very blessing. 

I grew up a confident, self-assured child, and being the youngest of 4 girls, the three above with substantial emotional needs, I grew a toughness to compensate for my lesser need of attention. At the time, I don’t remember this being a big issue for me, but looking back now I know that it has caused a few setbacks.

In high school, a time of self discovery and definitely a time of heightened insecurity, I was known amongst my friends and colleagues as the confident one. Now this wasn’t credited to vanity or cockiness, but rather a humility and grounded energy that I’ve natural had. This title made me feel proud, but it also placed me into a box.

When my friends would take turns talking about feeling insecure, or wanting to change this, become better at that, I was left feeling unable to express myself in the same way. When I didn’t have a prominent physical feature to hate myself for, my friends began to discredit the things that did make me feel insecure, and I began to stop talking about them.

Holding these insecurities in when around my friends didn’t enhance my insecurity as my family has always been an outlet for me to talk to when I feel down. I do, however, feel I missed out on opportunities to be vulnerable with my friends. Vulnerability is scary for everyone, but I feel like sharing deep thoughts and insecurities with your peers allows you to relate to them on an intimate, human, vulnerable level, which in turn strengthens your ability to be completely transparent.

Perhaps it’s foolish of me to think that talking about myself more in my teen years would somehow change the way I feel about vulnerability, but I guess I’ll never know. Today I will push myself to do 3 things that make me feel uncomfortable and over exposed.


My awkward post hair-cut selfie.

Selfie: I’ve always had a complex with posting selfies… I think as much as I try not to, I care about what people think of me. If I post a picture that someone else took of me, I feel less vulnerable because there’s no level of vanity in being photographed spontaneously by others. When I take photos of myself, I feel exposed. Sometimes I think I need to learn to be more vain… self-love doesn’t have to be understated.

Secret: My secret doesn’t apply to those close to me, but may come as a surprise to the world around me. The truth is, I’ve never been in a relationship. This is something small, but for me it’s been a topic of conflicting feelings, thoughts, and ideas. On one hand, I don’t think this is in any way weird or shocking. On the other hand, however, I can’t help but feel less than, or undesirable for this reality. In admitting this truth online, I’m surprised at the indifference I feel towards it…perhaps this really isn’t as unusual as I think it is.

Story: It’s a Man’s World  “…After exploring with fruitful delight, my sister and I decided to sit in a park before visiting the Giotto Scrovegni Chapel. We sat on a bench in front of a fountain, a man sat across from us listening to music. At first I didn’t think much of the young man in front of me, but after a few minutes I felt the burn of his stare across my chest…”