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AWOT: I Own My Attention

A response to “How I Got My Attention Back” by Craig Mod, which can be found here: https://www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/#.djqfcpajo

I love being online as much as I love being offline. I think I am at a point in my life where I know how to balance the two. As this page says, I am always Finding Balance, I think there will always be consistencies and ways to be better, but I guess I am just coming from a perspective where I have already taken a step back and checked myself and my online consumption habits.

I got the sense that Craig Mod got a little unsettled and frustrated with how much time he was spending on a phone game. Clash of Clans? How was the addiction to CC any different to people’s addictions to FarmVille? Some find addictions in other sources of media, besides their phones or besides their computers, and instead to TV’s and video games. Obviously, addictions span more than just the digital, but what I can see from his article is that he got addicted to a game with no end, and then wrote about it.

Maybe that’s too harsh. I know people who went through the same thing. My dad, for instance. He had to delete the game as well, and it’s one of the hardest things to do. I have played similar games on my phone, but find that I never had enough data to keep up with the games away from wifi, and just end up deleting them. In this sense, I may not completely understand the struggle of working tireless hours on a game with no benefits in real life, but I can try to understand the parts in which he relates our attention being battled for in the marketing world.

You’ve always had control of your attention. What ends up happening is people use free services that aren’t really ‘free’, use your information to advertise to you, and then profit off of the data and content you produce. This is online work. Lots of companies will be using this information to try and get your attention, and you can learn to tune them out.

This article romanticizes the past. The past where we weren’t “addicted to our phones” because the dopamine released in our brains said so, where we could wander nature freely, or where we profited off of slave work. The past wasn’t that great either. Trump does it all the time: “Make America great again!” But… when was America ever great? Because of the money it made during war? Terrible wars that are never fully covered in history books because of the horrors and terrible acts committed during those times? I admit, this is a bit of an extremist example. But this is a dramatic response to a dramatic article. Humans have always strived to learn more and more information. I don’t see why having information available to us is so bad. It can drive an educated community. With proper education, you can teach people how to differ between fake news and real news. You can learn to tune out what won’t help you and what will.

My bias is: if you want to be successful, you must be available. You miss opportunities if you don’t. People have been rejected from jobs for not replying to an email fast enough. In Mod’s defence, he does acknowledge this; “it’s important to emphasize that for certain members of certain groups, online non-negotiable”. And as is the point of my website in the first place, he does try to put people’s health first. Organization’s use and sell our eyeballs in more ways than he even stated, but it won’t be the end of the world. First, we must bring the issue to attention. Then, we can work on fixing it. This is no small feat, this is your typical you vs the man. The system is pretty big, and you must own your attention in this day and age. I think more people own their attention than you may think.

Mod’s issue of stolen attention talks about the struggle to be focused on something more productive than endless games. For students, and possibly others, it’s trying to study when you have multiple social media apps demanding your attention. How do we combat this? I believe this is more of a habit to build. When you are trying to do something, such as studying, reading, or writing, turn your phone and computer on silent. Your brain even works better without music or with little music. The notifications and the sounds trying to steal your attention will only succeed if you can hear or see them. Create a specific space where you do this as well. Sitting in your bed will signal your body to get ready to sleep, for example.

One-month vacations completely offline is unrealistic in our world. My generation has been thrown into a world where we must work longer hours to even afford a dirty shared space with people we don’t even know or like. There is more expected from us, with less returned to us. We have had to adapt; just imagine where the future generations will have to be doing.

I implore the community to hold on to the things that are productive to themselves and to their work. Find time to balance your work, your social life, and your personal life. If you have to, record how much time you spend and see if you can be more productive if you have something you love to do after you are done. Set goals, even small ones for the day every morning as you wake up. Find your balance.

Vision Board

I’ve never done a vision board before. I decided to start with a list of bullet points of things that describe me, or describe some of my passions.

  1. Athletic
  2. Adventurous
  3. Strong
  4. Thinker
  5. Reader
  6. Writer
  7. Positive
  8. Makeup
  9. Snowboarding
  10. Music (EDM)
  11. Soccer
  12. Greek
  13. Sister
  14. Curious
  15. Passionate
  16. Gym

I’m always changing, so whenever I’m asked to describe myself, I immediately start thinking about context. Is it for an interview? How do I make everything that’s bad about me sound good? Is it for class? If so, how many people are actually going to care? I’m not too sure how to be more creative about a vision board, but I took inspiration from something that happened to me in 7th grade.

7th grade was reckless and mayhem. Everyone was restless to get out of middle school and get into high school. The attitude was that we were better than everyone else. It was pretty ridiculous. It was kill or be killed – I don’t mean that literally, but what I do mean is that if you wanted to not get picked on by everyone else, you have to keep to yourself and try not to be noticed. Sometimes, you might feel you need to participate on picking on someone else because at least the attention wasn’t on you. Don’t stick up for the weird kid or else you too will be deemed WEIRD. There was a kid who was constantly picked on, who claimed he had turrets but no one was really sure. He did a lot of things for attention, and most kids would tell him inappropriate words to scream at the top of his lungs in the middle of class. He got in trouble with the teachers a lot, and was constantly kicked out of class for being disruptive.

One teacher had enough. She lectured us on how horrifying we had been acting not just to the one kid, but how we were treating each other. The ‘jokes’, the ‘rumours’, everything. She told us to write a list of everyone in class, and next to every name, we had to write one thing we liked about that person. Even if you didn’t know them, you had to write one compliment. She collected all the papers, and about 2 weeks later we got a paper back. The colourful paper had my name taking up the majority of the space, with compliments branching off of it. The bigger the compliments were in font, the more people said the same thing. Smaller font meant that the compliment was more unique.

Even if kids lied about the things on mine, I’ve kept it ever since. I was the WEIRD kid many times, and some people didn’t even know who I was enough to write a true compliment, but I have hung it up in my room all these years anyways. Sometimes you are so busy looking for the negative, you forget to look for the positives about yourself. I strongly believe that if you have anything like this, you should hang it up in your room. You don’t have to read it every day, but at least you know the meaning behind it and you can start your day on a positive note.

I think to take it a step further, or if you are finding yourself constantly feeling down, a good idea might be to start a journal. In this specific journal, you should write three good things about your day. It could be anything; a compliment you received, the weather, the way tights feel on freshly shaved legs. If you feel extra ambitious, try to add a fourth comment about something that’s bringing you down and give a possible answer to try and fix it. It doesn’t even have to be solved in that moment, but eventually, you train your brain to look for the positives and for solutions instead of the negatives. And heaven knows we have enough negativity in our lives to deal with as it is.

Selfie-Love

COming out of the selfie closet

Today I’m practicing selfies because self love and vanity is important in a healthy relationship with oneself, andI’m working on allowing myself to do things that scare me. Posting selfies challenges me to confront my vulnerability and to own myself in all my flaws and beauty.

Posting selfies for me is more than just posting a photo of myself…it feels personal and invasive. I feel naked. As someone who preaches self-love and confidence, I believe it’s about time I get over my fear of selfies, so here I am.

I took these photos after getting my hair cut just that little bit too short… just short enough to inspire me to play with my selfie camera and snapchat filters. This is me in all my glory…this is me exposed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little selfie gallery…please comment down below your Instagram so I can see all your beautiful faces!

XX, Kaiya

Community Guidelines

Process Post: Develop community guidelines for your site. Why are those the right guidelines for you? How will you implement them?

When it comes to hosting a site, it is important for me to embrace my ability to create an environment personalized to my beliefs. I fully understand that my website, any website for that matter, will encounter a certain number of ‘trolls’ and people who disagree with my content. I think it’s important to acknowledge that this will happen, and for me it’s very empowering to own my right to control what goes on in my blog world.

Since censorship is such a huge topic currently and always, I want to make sure make my guidelines clear to my readers. I do not want to censor people, but if it comes to a certain point I will do what I need to do to keep my environment a safe space.

As it stands, my community guidelines are:

  1. No Hate Speech: I will have a zero tolerance for racial, homophobic, transphobic (etc.) slurs and abusive content. If I see people using hateful language towards oppressed people’s I will address the problem directly, and turn off commenting. The comment will be left up for accountability, and the commenter will be watched in case of future commenting.
  2. You Are Entitled to Your Opinion…Unless it Undermines Basic Human Rights: All opinions are welcome, but let’s clarify what an opinion really is or at least what I will accept. An opinion is “I prefer waffles to pancakes”. An opinion is “I think you should wait until married to have sex”. What isn’t an opinion that I will accept is “Black lives don’t matter…all lives matter”. What isn’t an opinion is “Girls should really stop complaining about getting negative attention from guys, especially when she’s dressed like that.” An opinion isn’t a matter of wether or not people deserve basic human rights…period.
  3. Think Before You Comment: Sometimes content posted here may leave you with disease. If you feel overwhelmed with emotion, pause and think. Do you believe what you’re about to say is true? Do you have sources/information to back up your claims? Would you want an employer to read your comment? If you answer no to any of the above questions, rethink what you’re going to say and comment when you answer yes to all questions.

I will make sure to keep my guidelines up to date and will change them as needed. As of now, I will not be deleting comments, but will absolutely confront people who do not follow my rules, and will turn off comments if things escalate.

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…”

It’s a Man’s World

Padua Day Trip gone wrong

As a young woman in Vancouver, I feel very fortunate for the (general) respect I experience on a day to day basis in the streets, in bars, in work, and in everyday life. I am lucky to feel confident in walking the streets alone, engaging in conversation with strangers on the street, and in navigating the world around me on my own. For me, I very rarely feel as though my gender has put me at a higher risk than those who are male presenting. This all changed, however, when I travelled to Padua.

My Italy dress in its pink, figure flattering glory.

When I was travelling Europe last spring/summer, I took a day trip from Venice to the small Byzantine city of Padua, or known to English Majors as the setting of the Taming of the Shrew. I woke up that morning feeling excited and confident in how incredible my day was going to be. I donned my “Italy dress”, a cardigan, and my sunnies and was off. I felt beautiful and radiant, my dress flowing in the breeze, my hair gold in the sun. My sister and I explored the city and visited the basilicas.

Being in Italy, we had to ensure our shoulders and knees were covered as a respect to the more modest culture. I thought I was modest enough, but in hindsight I can’t stop myself from thinking my dress was a little too low-cut, or a tad too sheer. There has never been a day in my life where I’ve felt more self-conscious than that day.

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. My sister and I decided to get up and walk around the park before heading to the chapel, but the music followed us.

After determining that in fact, we were being followed, my sister and I left the park. Again, the violating burn of his stare bore into my back. We sped up at this point, and lost him at the exit of the park. We crossed the street and rushed into a hotel to use their washroom. We figured there was no way he would have cared enough to follow us out of the park so we left the hotel feeling positive.

Walking the heritage streets of Padua.

Low and behold, the man reappeared from the opposite direction than before. He had followed us, passed the hotel, and had turned back to keep looking. His timing was perfect, however, and he caught us on the way out of the hotel. His penetrative stare was disturbing, and I’ll never forget how small he made me feel.

My sister and I didn’t get a change to visit the chapel that day…instead we chose to catch an early train back to Venice. His dominance got the best of us. I felt weak, insufficient, and worthless. Regardless of how strong and confident I felt starting that day off, my entire personhood was taken control of by a sick man seeking an affirmation of dominance.

I was surprised at how deeply this experience affected me. I was never one to let others change my view of myself, but after that day I couldn’t help but think that it was my fault I was stalked. It was my fault because my dress was too tight to my figure. It was my fault because I didn’t stand up for myself. It was my fault.

In hindsight I know that this man was nothing more than a sick, power-hungry sadist. I know that it was not my fault, and that it could have happened to anyone. I will not let one person’s false dominance overpower my strength and confidence again.

Remix.

Remix something. Now what does that mean? For some it may mean remixing a song… for others it may mean putting a spin on a traditional recipe, or updating old lyrics for a new era. For me Immediately thought classical art and poetry. How can I take poetic imagery and mix it with art from my favourite century ? The question was broad. The answer was simple.

Taking inspiration from Rupi Kaur’s quirky illustrations and powerful words, I decided to contrast these modern feminist pieces with 19th century art featuring female subjects. Although these women are subjects of eurocentric beauty ideals and are seemingly polar opposites to Rupi Kaur herself. Yet 150 years ago, these paintings challenged the view of women in art: one nude challenging the viewer with confident eye-contact, one a detailed nude of an up close vulva, and lastly, a leisurely educated nude in a bathtub, a book placed to the side.

Original                                                                                    Remix

   

I Am: A Woman

Today is International Women’s Day.

Today I  take a moment to appreciate the women around me, not only my cisters but my sisters.

Today I scream pride in my femininity and celebrate the ever-changing, diverse, and dynamic definition of the word.

Today I challenge my oppressors, and bow to those I oppress.

Today I stand as an ally by my LGBTQIA+ women, femmes, and non-binary family.

Today I stand with my black sisters and with all women of colour.

Today I mourn the loss of black trans women‘s lives.

Today I mourn the lives of missing and murdered indigenous women.

Today I mourn the lives of muslim girls and women who’s freedoms are taken by those who turn a blind eye to their crisis.

Today I celebrate the lives of those breaking boundaries, and those who take up deserved space.

Today I shine light on those who find empowerment in nudity, and on those who find it through modesty.

Today I express sex positivity  and praise those who embrace their sexuality in all its colours, differences, and uniqueness to each.

Today I honour the powerful deities around me, and send love to those around the world.

Tomorrow  I continue to take action.

Tomorrow I fight for our liberation.

Tomorrow we break free.

I Am: Political

Trapped in the Facebook Bubble

Over the past few months there has been a heightened conversation among internet users on the inundation of fake news sites and the harm it causes the education of our people. Wether it is a falsified prediction of U.S. voter turnout or a sensationalized coverage of an entertainment event, these fake news sources skew the way people view the world and misinform populations of people who have been taught to accept information without question. In light of the recent United States Election, the prominence of fake news has come to the forefront. When these fake sources are circulated online, specifically on social media platforms like Facebook, we run the risk of falling into an echo chamber of false information and filtered truths.

As online contributors, it is crucial to be aware of the sources we use and of the content we reference, especially in times of social and political turmoil. Since the new and popularly criticized president of the United States was elected, talk around the digital mistakes we have and continue to make has risen. Before this tumultuous election, terms like “echo chamber”, “filter bubble”, and “fake news” were really only known and popular amongst an intellectual crowd. Since President Trump has set foot in office, however, these terms have infiltrated many internet infrastructures.

In 2011, Eli Pariser went to TED to share his online concerns in a talk titled “Beware online “filter bubbles””. In this talk Eli touched on the lack of control individuals hold in the personalization of their filtered feed of information and how detrimental this is to both the knowledge and awareness of the individual and democracy itself. In describing the way platforms like Facebook and Google personalize content to show us what they think we would like to see rather than what we need to see, he used the analogy of a balanced diet. Pariser stated that in an ideal world we would have an equal balance between enjoyment and pleasure based content and political or crucial content for the health of democracy, or in his words “some information vegetables […] some information dessert.” (5:30-5:35) What happens when online algorithms base the information we see on the information we like, or click on, is we are essentially surrounded by “information junk food.” (5:50-6:00) This metaphor not only emphasizes the toxicity of filter bubbles, but perfectly captures the appearance of fake and sensationalized news.

Disguised as a healthy meal, and coated with a self-satisfying sensation, this information junk food is displayed all over the internet, and its click-bate design makes it nearly impossible to avoid indulging. Our use of computers and the internet for both work and play subconsciously blurs the lines between professional and recreational communication, making fake news harder to spot. (Frank) Author Russell Frank explains in “Caveat Lector: Fake News as Folklore” that he himself has fallen victim to fake news. After reading multiple articles that appeared to be reliable and were written in a journalistic style, he discovered that in fact all of the sources were falsified. (Frank) These nearly indistinguishable fake news stories slip into voters feeds and provide them with exaggerated and misstated information. A reporter from Buzzfeed, Craig Silverman, explained that fake election news was  shared, commented on and reacted to 20% more than real election news in the months leading to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. (Berghel)

Once these fake news stories enter the realm of voters and citizens internet sphere, the likeliness of them circulating is very high. John Bohannon, writer of “Is Facebook keeping you in a political bubble?”, however, states that although the bubble exists, they do not hold the same weight as some may believe. When hosting a case study with over 10 million Americans from varying political beliefs, researchers found that Facebook’s algorithm made it only 1% less likely for stories to cross over into both conservative and liberal Facebook profiles. (Bohannon) After concluding the study, Bohannon explained that regardless of the likeliness of crossover between political viewpoints, these bubbles are still no matter to be taken lightly.

In his 2012 article “‘Social Voting’ Really Does Rock the Vote” he explained the reality of a Facebook herding bias. In 2012 as an attempt to increase voter turnout, Facebook rolled out a prompt on voting day allowing users to click an “I voted” button while displaying photos of six friends who had already voted. For Facebook users who’s friends had already clicked the “I voted” button, there was a 0.39% increase of likeliness for those users to vote. (Bohannon, “‘Social Voting'”) These Facebook statistics were then compared to state voter results, and the percentage held its truth. Although this case study does not reflect exactly on the topic of fake news, it exemplifies the notion that events that take place online have real world translations and effects.

As an online contributor, I feel it is my responsibility to be careful with the content I post and share. Like many others, I have fallen victim to believing fake news, and have even shared it. As someone who has grown up with the internet and social media, my immediate instinct is to trust the platforms on which I operate. In light of recent events, scandals, and with an increase of education, I have made an active decision to question all sources I come into contact with and to think of those who I may influence. It is easy to think that my sharing a fake news story on Facebook will have little to no impact on the world around me. What is challenging is accepting that what happens online extends into real life, and that the filter bubble we see on Facebook has more control over us than we may believe.

 

Works Cited

Berghel, Hal. “Lies, Damn Lies, and Fake News.” Computer 50.2 (2017): 80-85. Ieee Xplore. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Beware Online “filter Bubbles”. Perf. Eli Pariser. TED. N.p., Mar. 2011. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
Bohannon, John. “Is Facebook Keeping You in a Political Bubble?” Science (2015): n. pag. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Bohannon, John. “‘Social Voting’ Really Does Rock the Vote.” Wired. Conde Nast, 13 Sept. 2012. Web. 25 Feb. 2017.
Frank, R. “Caveat Lector: Fake News as Folklore.” Journal of American Folklore, vol. 128 no. 509, 2015, pp. 315-332. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/589183.