Draft for Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer

Tao of Twitter by Mark Schaefer

I. Concepts:

  • Technological Determinism: Schaefer writes positively of the effects of Twitter and emphasizes the potential connections possible. He does not fully address the negatives of the site. He writes that every tweet is important no matter what the content is about, it is an opportunity.
  • Social capital: Schaefer would absolutely agree that users have potential ties waiting to happen. He writes that users need to take the initiative to follow or tweet at someone. Usually, they will receive a response. Throughout the book he gives examples of weak ties, strong ties, and latent ties; all of this leads to media multiplexity.

II. Audience, structure, content: Schaefer’s book is suitable for Twitter beginners because he breaks down and details the structure of Twitter. He firmly believes that it is beneficial to businesses and that they should try it for new opportunities. He categorizes and gives strategies for how to use it effectively.

III. Ethics: Schaefer does not specifically address any issues with how Twiiter functions. He focuses on the individual making the decisions not how the site itself affects the user. It can be inferred from his book that the power is in the user’s hands and not Twitter, because the user determines what he or she will do. The user determines how much effort to give and the outcomes.

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Sexting has become part of the adolescence list. Besides drugs, alcohol, sex, and many others, sexting is now a concern for youths. Due to cell phone technologies growing exponentially, the device enables teens, and even younger, an easy way to share images. In class we have discussed the negative effects of sexting and the proper legal actions that should be used.

According to a poll, conducted by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, many adults believe that the solution should be noncriminal. 81 percent of the people polled thought that an educational program would be most beneficial. Our class also came to a consensus that the parents should play a major role, but the schools should as well in educating kids and teens. 75 percent believe in community service, 44 percent believe in fines, and less than 20 percent believe that it should be treated as a sex crime.

In class we have discussed about youth’s violation of self-expression; that sexting is another way of showing who you are.  In “Sexting as Media Production: re-thinking social media,” Amy Hasinoff discusses the necessity for lawmakers and parents to understand that sexting can also be seen as a media production. She write s that sexting is being misrepresented by the media. I don’t believe there is any appropriate young age for any teen to share images of themselves that are naked or even scantily clad. Like drinking it should be a law that you cannot do so unless you are over 21 years. Although, it may provoke students to do otherwise, many recent news articles have come to an agreement that sexting only happens among a small number of kids anyways.

Someone in class also brought up the point that sexting is usually girls instead of boys and that there is an unfair disadvantage to girls. I strongly agree with this point because sexting reinforces gender stereotypes. Sexting can be academically studied and approached as: why do young girls need to subject themselves to provocative images in order to prove to others that they are beautiful or popular, etc? It almost makes girls think that sexting is what they have to do, not that it is their choice. Young girls interpret sexting as a role, that this is what older women (like celebrities) do to be defined as beautiful. The boys that instigate sexting also play into gender stereotypes because it is the number of images that you can get from a variety of girls to show how manly you are. The guy is then in control and he has the power, because he has the ownership of images that could be leaked to the public. Hasinoff’s addresses these issues in a positive way by saying that young girls are making these choices in “complex social and media contexts they do not control.” She goes on by saying that it is ok for girls’ sexual media practices to be leverage against mass media. I cannot agree with Hasinoff that using sexually charged images of young girls will help mediate the representations of youth and femininity in the media, as well as society.  Publicizing and objectifying a young woman’s body is not a solution to sexting or feminine stereotypes.

The technologies we discussed in class, like EyeGuardian, do help parents curb their kids’ behavior but ruins the trust relationship. Although the law seems to be too cruel for young children, I think it is important to categorize it as a sex crime. Although they should not be treated as sexual criminals, they should be aware that their actions basically make them one. Another issue to address is defining what constitutes as sexting and what does not. There needs to be an analysis and categorization of the types of images, so children and teens know what is deemed inappropriate. It may be seen as a violation of privacy but cellphone and internet usage is not contained to just their social sphere and can be easily accessed by anyone.

It’s Not Official Unless it’s on Facebook.

Watching Life 2.0 reminded me of many simulation games that I have played and experienced including: Neopets, Sims, Counter Strike, WOW, etc. There are many platforms that allow relationships, similar to the ones discussed in Second Life, to develop. It is very easy to get caught up in these virtual worlds and become part of the communities surrounding it. This is especially true if it is a game because it allows players to freely express themselves and their imagination without boundaries. We began discussing in class the perspectives the director uses to portray the people in the film. One of the biggest flaws is the over dramatization of the situations presented. The most dramatized situation was the love story of Amy and Steven, where they are the narrators of their story. They are shown within Second Life as their avatars and we see their fantastical relationship developed through their imaginations. Throughout class, many were laughing and found their relationship to be humorous. Amy is often portrayed as giggling and a little ditzy and Steven is slow and easygoing, it is a very surreal love that the audience witnesses. We also find their adjustments to their relationship in the real world to be funny and we could infer that they would not work out. Although it seems that the director may be exploiting their emotions, I think it is important in showing how emotionally attached one cam become. It solidifies the realness of the situation that is being portrayed.

The article I have chosen is from USA Today, “Social media can both help and hurt real-life relationships”, by psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser. She writes about different aspects of relationships that could be tarnished by social media. The article is humorous and I don’t know if it should be taken seriously. However, it is clear that she believes that social media, specifically, Facebook, is an important part of a relationship. She gives the example of “full disclosure” where your partner should publicly display your relationship in their social network. Basically her article redefines relationships and integrates them into social networking. Kaiser understands the growing importance of establishing not only individual identities but making connections between couples in real life into couples online. She also suggests that social media can hinder trust issues between partners. I think it is true that social media is an individual and personal thing that we do. We have discussed in class the different personalities and identities we take on while networking. She suggests freely opening up e-mails, texts, and even Facebook, so there is no privacy between partners. She takes a very open approach to relationship problems, and although she understands the importance of social media, I don’t think she understands the importance of how singular social networking is. I would say it has a lot to do with the fact that she is a woman so her solutions to the problems she poses are a little skewed.

I think both situations focus strongly on the emotional aspects of interpersonal relationships and social media. Not only are couples connected in the virtual world or networking sites but their bond has more at stake. They have real commitments, they see each other in real life, and their virtual connections are more emotional with each other than they would have with other people. Is there a rising importance in establishing relationships in social media? I would assume so because social networking platforms often reflect real connections and situations. You can’t be married in real life and still single online; it needs to be parallel. Unless there is a motive for your online identity to be single.

Sociology and Media

I think Beer makes good observations in response to boyd and Ellison’s article. Although he is a little too critical about their ideas, both articles are important in understanding social media and networking. In Beer’s article, he makes further distinction between “networking” and “networks”. “Networking” is only applicable to certain websites and the term social network sites should become an umbrella term. He acknowledges that many of these websites’ applications overlap categories, which is why he wants more classifications in order to accommodate new online cultures. Boyd and Ellison centers on what makes a social network site, which has the ability to: construct profiles, add a list of users with whom they have a connection, and be able to view their list. The importance is the ability to connect with people you already know in real life.

I am conflicted by both articles’ opinions on separating online and offline relationships. Boyd and Ellision suggests that friends on SNSs are not the same as your real life friends and Beer thinks otherwise. I agree more with boyd and Ellision and separating your real life friends and SNS friends is an important distinction. Although my friends are people I know in real life, they are not the people I would call my close friends or who I want to keep in touch with all the time. To me SNS friends are people who I stay connected with because we met in certain situations. My SNS list does not reflect my real life friends.

I double major in media and communications and sociology, because I thought many of the theories related very closely to each other. In the case of studying social media, it should be treated as a distinct subject. Many things we know about human interactions can be applied to our virtual connections. Although SNS is the virtual world it has had a strong influence and is incorporated closely with our everyday actions. I think it is important to address how and why it has impacted us so strongly as a society and why we as individuals are so obsessed over it.

In class we discussed how individuals are able to manipulate their identities and present themselves in specific ways. This allows for users to comment indiscriminately and form connections and community based on similar opinions. In a previous human communications class we read from many theorists including Erving Goffman’s “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”. I think this can be applied sociologically to the developing identities on SNSs and networks. His theories are analogous to how humans interact socially. Goffman writes about how people put on performances in their everyday lives to present to the “audience”. There are layers and techniques for these daily performances and require the “actor” to adapt to their surroundings. This is very similar to social network users because they too are often putting a persona on display. Again, how they interact on SNSs may not be how they are in real life.

I think this traditional way of applying past theories to new social media is an important step in understanding these new forms of connections. It is important to acknowledge that human communication is changing everyday with the development of social network sites. Society tries very hard to keep up and predict the future of social network sites. I think it will be a challenge for scholars as well to keep up with changing communications and connections.