When reflecting on my own blog, I see a stark difference on what I expected and what the course has taught me. In the beginning, I had an innocent idea of blogs. It’s an online space to express yourself and connect with people who have the same ideas. I still keep that idea when I write on my blog. However, throughout the course, I have changed my perspectives because I am more conscious on how it affects cultures, individuals, and workers. As ‘neutral’ as my content is, I don’t feel ‘safe’ because I am vulnerable with my content. Anybody can find my information and turn it against me or misuse my words to feed their own narratives. I want to explore this ‘fear’ and how the course has made me more careful about what I post and what I share online. It doesn’t necessarily discourage me from using the internet and social media. But my awareness has allowed me to be more appreciative of the people who create ‘controversial’ content that can endanger them or the people around them just because one person on the internet does not agree with it. My goal is to express my self-awareness in an active role. It’s not enough that I consume media writing about someone’s demise to the pitchforks of the internet. I want to be aware of that in my daily conversation online and offline.
Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis writes about media manipulation and the dissemination of disinformation online (2017). They discuss the events revolving around Wikileaks’ distribution of the hacked emails of John Podesta, Hilary Clinton’s campaign chairman (Marwick & Lewis, 2017, p. 2). Users from the message board 4chan quickly spread misinformation about the emails and how subcultural groups such as the alt-right groups who have given this scandal greater media attention than Trump’s own allegations (Marwick & Lewis, 2017, p.2). These groups leverage their online presence and take advantage of the ‘vulnerabilities in the news’ and increase the coverage of their messages (Marwick & Lewis, 2017, p.3). This topical example has impacted U.S. politics today and in my opinion, gave voice to the hateful and divisive groups in America. I am reflective of how this affects my own online presence. It’s good to be knowledgeable and aware of the power of these groups, and I want to be more conscious about that in my own online interactions. In my blog, I speak about productivity and the impacts of smartphones on our day to day lives. I address the conflict between our attachment to our phones and this growing dependency to it. I think part of this conversation that I learned from the course is also the responsibility of the user. I cannot mindlessly use my devices and ignore what exists in the same spaces I connect in. I try to have ‘conscious’ content and express that throughout my blog.
Mike Caulfield writes a thought provoking piece on Digital Literacy and what we should follow (2016). What I found relevant to my reflection is his example of the Tree Octopus. These digital literacy acronyms and rules that are commonly shared to schools are useless in determining what is real or fake on the internet (Caulfield, 2016). The tree octopus is a fake cephalopod with a fake creature page that shows it has evolved into an amphibian and survives on land (Caulfield, 2016). What Caulfield found was they did not distinguish this by using acronyms to detect fake news, but just by knowing and learning that it’s impossible (2016). This leads to his proposal that to be digitally literate, you must know the web (Caulfield, 2016). What I think he means by this is that we must be aware and critical online as we are in our day to day lives. There are going to be groups and individuals who will misguide users because they don’t know anything better. Dissemination will be used for political gain or to harm minorities. I want to continue practicing these conscious ideas online. My blog is as vulnerable as anyone else’s. But I try my best to learn more and carry that knowledge with me.
I am reminded of UCL’s social media discoveries and why it’s important to be conscious of how it is affecting our day to day lives (2018). Discovery #12 writes that social media has a profound impact on gender relations (2018). This is a small example on this bigger picture of bettering myself in the online space. They find that users have benefits in using real or fake accounts to express sensitive topics and coming out against heteronormative relationships (UCL, 2018). Even though I am still cautious of my own personal information, I think there will be ways in which I can express myself. Knowledge and discussion will better me as a blog writer or an internet user. While I still carry this fear, I want to play an active role and this course helped me prepare for it.
Caulfield, M. (December 19, 2016). Yes, digital literacy. But which one? Hapgood. Accessed on November 26, 2018. Retrieved from https://hapgood.us/2016/12/19/yes-digital-literacy-but-which-one/.
Marwick, A. & Lewis, R. (2017). Media manipulation and disinformation online. Data & Society. Accessed on November 26, 2018. Retrieved from http://posiel.com/outline/full-semester-outline/.
UCL (2018). Social media can have a profound impact through gender relations, sometimes through using fake accounts. University College London. Accessed on November 26, 2018. Retrieved from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/why-we-post/discoveries/12-social-media-can-have-a-profound-impact-on-gender-relations-sometimes-through-using-fake-accounts.