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Mini Assignment #6: Create a gif

For this mini assignment, I struggled trying to figure out what to create a gif about. I debated whether or not to make one about a video game, but thought it would be super generic. I could do one about a superhero, but those exist everywhere online. I scoured my iPhone’s camera roll looking for a batch of photos I could make a gif out of, which led me to what you see below.

Thanks to the TikTok algorithm, I have recently developed an obsession with orange cats. Prior to my brainwashing I was a firm cat hater. Me and my girlfriend would playfully fight over whether dogs or cats were better. Around the peak of our bickering over this topic, we encountered this beautiful orange cat on a walk. I held the preconceived notion that cats were apprehensive or unfriendly towards strangers. But this cat was one of the most affectionate creatures I have ever met! They instantly approached me and my girlfriend and started letting us pet them.

Of course me and my girlfriend had to snap some pictures with our new friend. The gif you see below is from my little photo shoot with the adorable cat we named Rochester.

image of me with an orang cat

Peer Review #3: Knitting After Hours

Knitting After Hours is a fantastic blog by Lily that is centered around the creator’s interests such as cooking and knitting. The About Me page eloquently captures the tone and subject matter of the titular blog. However, one aspect I would like to pay great attention to is the personal anecdotes Lily articulates. These personal details are a great touch that effectively conveys the personality behind the Knitting After Hours blog to the audience. Additionally, this personal approach lends credence to the assertions of Tom Critchlow in regard to digital gardening. For example, as cited in our Tanya Basu course reading: “with blogging, you’re talking to a large audience,” he says. “With digital gardening, you’re talking to yourself. You focus on what you want to cultivate over time” (Basu, 2020). Knitting After Hours captures the sense of a digital garden that Lily is fostering for both them and their larger audience. This is exemplified on the About Me page when Lily outlines how cooking and knitting helps them stay focused when conducting their academic responsibilities. It can be inferred that Lily wants to strive to achieve a better schoolwork ethic since it is mentioned on their About Me page that they “put off” assignments and readings. Thus cooking and knitting are great outlets to promote a better work ethic. This instance showcases how these interests help instill balance in their life. Therefore, Knitting After Hours serves as a digital garden that Lily can use to help cultivate better improvements in their life.

Basu, T. (2020). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/

Week 10: Process Post

Within the prompt of this week’s process post, I will evaluate it from the standpoint of a creator and a user.

Analytics have proved to be very useful for many to strategically develop engaging content to share. Back when I was active on my fan Instagram account I would use the analytics to discern that 12pm was the best time to post. Additionally, I was able to garner from engagement data that 6 images in a collage worked best for my theme. However, when I was working my co-op jobs as a digital marketing assistant — analytics rarely factored into any actionable strategies. What usually happened was that analytics were just to be reported to the bosses. Personally, I find analytics to be an insightful tool, however it should not inform everything a content creator does.

On the other hand, when it comes to my experience as an end user — analytics about me cause anxiety. It is a modern dilemma amid the digital age — that everything we do is trackable and is providing data to various companies. I find myself outraged when I come across toxic social media posts in my feeds. I ask myself: why is the algorithm showing me this? I subsequently block these accounts, however I fear that going threw that extra step to block toxic social media accounts is actually feeding the algorithms to show me more of these types of content. Additionally, I am a very private person, so it is always stressful visiting sites and handing out my personal information. I recognize that this is the digital world we live in, but it is definitely tiresome and even worrisome.

Mini Assignment #5: Online Self Infographic

Within the prompt of this mini assignment, I have created this infographic to illustrate my online self.

It was very easy to discern that YouTube takes up most of my online usage. Even when I am doing something I always have a YouTube video on in the background.

Social media was also very easy to identify as a major time consumer when online. Platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram are always being checked. Whenever I bored the first thing I do is check social media. Worse then that, the first thing I do when I wake up is go on social media.

Next was gaming. I am an avid gamer so this was a no-brainer. In my free time I will usually be playing a multiplayer game like Destiny 2, League of Legends, Valorant, etc.

Penultimately, movie and television streaming services come up next. Admittedly, this use to be much higher; but in recent years my usage of streaming services like Netflix have dwindled. I mostly just use them to watch new episodes of shows. I rarely binge watch anymore.

Finally, web browsing is an all encompassing umbrella for general internet usage. Whether this be online shopping, researching something, etc.

Mini Assignment #4: Remix something

Hi everyone,

Here is my Mini Assignment 4 – Remix Something.

Please enjoy this video of League of Legends gameplay that I remixed into an epic gameplay montage. I found some cool free music and decided to add that in too.

I really like the last clip where I rekt my girlfriend in a 1v1:)

Process Post: Week 9

This was the week our essays were due so I thought I would lend this process post to that whole process. The assignment prompt was: “social media platforms are democratic“.

Please read the essay here: http://sus-e.com/home/essay-one-are-social-media-platforms-democratic/

I approached this essay from the perspective of someone who is involved in the dissemination of social media content. Very rarely do I create or curate social media content so this was the best lens to analyze the assignment through.

I subsequently took a look at current events so that I could have tangible examples to share. The ones I outlined in my essay are Donald Trump’s social media communications, Kanye West antisemitic social media statements, Elon Musk buying Twitter and all the harassment he fosters towards other individuals, and the murder of Mahsa Amini in Iran. Please read the essay to see how I stitched these current events into my argument.

The research process was very smooth. I used the catalogue search in the SFU Library website to find my sources. I also used articles from news outlets to supplement the scholarly articles.

All in all the writing of the essay went very well. The writing prompt was great to work with so I had many thoughts that spilled onto the Word document.

The biggest hiccup I had was when I tried to post my essay to my website. Around 11:51pm, I went to add the essay to the website, but for some reason when trying to publish the post the website would stop working. I tried again three times but nothing happened! It was around 12:02am now so I missed the November 8th due date. As someone who struggles with severe anxiety, I instantly panicked and contacted the TA and professor to alert them to my issue. However, I then tried switching to a different computer at my house and was able to post the essay to my website. I suspect something happened within the cached data on my laptop. I do all the work for this course on that laptop so I had no reason to suspect it would not work when I tried to post.

So, my essay was posted 8 minutes late; hopefully I don’t get penalized for this unforeseen circumstance.

Essay One: Are Social Media Platforms Democratic

Please note: This essay was submitted 8 minutes late due to an issue with my laptop when originally trying to make the post prior to the November 8th due date.

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Amid the upcoming 2022 United States midterm election, numerous antisemitic comments made by Kanye West, and the recent $44 billion purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk, much discussion has been had over the democratic nature of social media platforms and whether or not they are safe for disenfranchised people. Therefore, within the framework of this essay I will analyze the notion that social media promotes democracy. The conclusion this essay comes to is that social media is neither democratic nor undemocratic.

In our contemporary digital age, social media has become an integral resource that countless people utilize. The awareness and visibility that social media posts can garner makes these platforms essential for many social actors and institutions. For example: companies and corporations advertise their products and publicize their corporate image, celebrities foster awareness for their projects, and politicians mobilize their voter base. Therefore, notions that surround social media platforms being a positive impact on democracy are lend credence when evaluating these factors. However, as researchers Joshua A. Tucker, Yannis Theocharis, Margaret E. Roberts, and Pablo Barberá eloquently outline – what social media platforms inherently facilitate is open access to information thus democratizing the access to this important commodity (2017, p. 48); however, as aforementioned social media platforms among the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are neither democratic nor undemocratic. Accordingly, social media is a tool for political actors to battle for influence (Tucker et al., 2017, p. 48)

Before moving forward, it will be important to highlight factors that breed undemocratic discussions. Researchers W. Lance Bennett and Steven Livingston outline that in recent years – examples of the Brexit campaign and former American president Donald Trump’s social media communications have led to an increase in radical right movements and ideologies being spread in many nations via disinformation and fake news most prominently on social media (2018, p. 135). As witnessed on January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building – these social media actions fundamentally threaten democracy. Moreover, this phenomenon has been connected to the widespread dissemination of violence and hate speech against minority groups (Bennett & Livingston, 2018, p. 135).

Additionally, the instance of antisemitic remarks made on October 8, 2022, by hip hop artist Kanye West on his Twitter account has led to an increase in hate speech towards Jewish people primarily circulated on social media (Paulson & Graham, 2022). This growing trend signifies how social media has made the circulation of this kind of hateful rhetoric easier and more prominent withing the modern zeitgeist (Paulson & Graham, 2022), thus ostracizing Jewish people from a potential democratic online space. According to researchers Skoric et al. (2018, p. 1098) as cited by Manuel Goyanes, Porismita Borah, and Homero Gil de Zúñiga, the filtering and curation processes of social media platforms essentially create echo chambers “where citizens tend to talk to others who hold similar political views.” (Goyanes et al., 2021, p. 1) Therefore, the people who engage in racist and antisemitic discussions on social media both algorithmically and organically coalesce to perpetuate their hateful ideologies.

Furthermore, it has been reported by journalists Drew Harwell, Taylor Lorenz and Cat Zakrzewski in The Washington Post that within the small timeframe that Twitter has been under the ownership of Elon Musk, there has been a surge in numerous Twitter accounts engaging in racist discourse on the social media platform; with many speculating this rise in bigotry stemming from Musk’s proclivity to criticize Twitter’s content moderation prior to his takeover (2022). Promptly after Musk took over Twitter, he fired the top executives at the company that he had conflicts with over their various approaches to managing the social media platform (Ortutay et al., 2022). One of these terminated executives Vijaya Gadde, the former Chief Legal Counsel at Twitter was bombarded with racist and misogynistic harassment amidst her clash with Musk (Ortutay et al., 2022). This instance highlights the influence Musk has on the radical right social media demographic and how they can be mobilized to harm the democratic process by inciting violence and hatred.

As clearly articulated above, social media can be deployed by political/social actors to achieve goals that threaten democracy or contribute to an undemocratic space for disenfranchised minority groups. However, despite this social media manages to be a strong defence against nondemocratic autocracies due to the information that can be conveyed by international journalists that illuminate pressing issues in other nations (Tucker et al., 2017, p. 49). An instance that highlights this surrounds the recent protest in Iran. As reported by The Associated Press, The Iranian government’s strict dress code imposed on women subsequently led to the morality police brutally murdering Mahsa Amini for allegedly violating this rule (2022). What resulted from this was countless protests in the nation and unrest as demonstrators clashed with the nation’s security and paramilitary forces (The Associated Press, 2022). In hopes of hurting the protest movement, Iran’s government shut down internet access to citizens and subsequently led to Instagram and WhatsApp outages, essentially enacting censorship on the people of Iran (The Associated Press, 2022). However, the news quickly spread around the world due to the viral social media attention which has helped garner support for the protestors. In the days since, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations have all condemned her death (The Associated Press, 2022). This case in Iran illustrates Tucker et al. assertion that “when unrest challenges nondemocratic regimes, social media’s ability to convey information shines.” (2017, p. 49)

Hopefully over the course of this essay, I was able to effectively articulate Tucker et al. assertions that informed my conclusion – that social media is neither democratic nor undemocratic. Instead, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are full of social and political actors that utilize social media as a tool to achieve democratic or undemocratic goals. Examples provided above illustrate how certain individuals utilize social media to directly harm democracy or contribute to an undemocratic space for disenfranchised minority groups. On the other hand, social media can be used to fight back against tyranny from nondemocratic autocracies by highlighting information that they wish to censor from the global audience. This coalesces into the notion of social media’s effect on democracy.

References

Bennett, W. L., & Livingston, S. (2018). The disinformation order: Disruptive communication and the decline of democratic institutions. European Journal of Communication (London), 33(2), 122–139. https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323118760317

Goyanes, M., Borah, P., & Gil de Zúñiga, H. (2021). Social media filtering and democracy: Effects of social media news use and uncivil political discussions on social media unfriending. Computers in Human Behavior, 120, 106759. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2021.106759

Harwell, D., Lorenz, T., Zakrzewski, C. (2022). Racist tweets quickly surface after Musk closes Twitter deal. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/10/28/musk-twitter-racist-posts/

Ortutay, B., Krisher, T., O’brien, M. (2022). AP sources: Musk in control of Twitter, ousts top executives. The Associated Press. https://apnews.com/article/elon-musk-twitter-inc-technology-business-san-francisco-ee1e283ff873813524ff21b0a7751b47

Paulson, M., & Graham, R. (2022). Between Kanye and the Midterms, the Unsettling Stream of Antisemitism. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/04/us/kanye-antisemitism-midterms.html

Skoric, M. M., Zhu, Q., & Lin, J.-H. T. (2018). What Predicts Selective Avoidance on Social Media? A Study of Political Unfriending in Hong Kong and Taiwan. American Behavioral Scientist, 62(8), 1097–1115. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764218764251

The Associated Press. (2022). At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread. The Associated Press. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/article/middle-east-iran-dubai-united-arab-emirates-5897d601151beb0f01353dd83e405d7d

Tucker, J. A., Theocharis, Y., Roberts, M. E., & Barberá, P. (2017). From Liberation to Turmoil: Social Media And Democracy. Journal of Democracy, 28(4), 46–59. https://doi.org/10.1353/jod.2017.0064