Sunday, April 30, 2017

Extra Credit Post: Net Neutrality

The freedom of the internet as we know it may very well be in jeopardy. FCC chair Ajit Pai mentioned in a speech in Washington last week that he is aiming to reverse rules that give the government greater regulatory power over internet service providers, arguing that they cost jobs (what?) and depressed investment.

Behind all of the rhetoric, what this all boils down to is that the FCC wants to allow internet service providers (Cox, Time Warner, Verizon etc.) to have the ability to slow down service to certain sites. This opens the door to situations where an ISP can threaten to slow down the connection to a site, unless said site pays them their dues (bribes).

Currently, ISPs are regulated as a public utility. ISPs are not allowed to slow down service to a website in particular for whatever reason they want. What the Republicans are trying to do are reverse the Obama-era regulations, likely for the sake of the telecommunication company lobby, then hide behind the premise of "smaller government". What this (among many other things) is turning into is "small government", let's let our corporate buddies run rampant and do whatever they please at the expense of the American people, the economy, and the environment.

This very well could be the death of the internet as we know it. Sadly, not a larger percentage of the American people know this is going on. The main stream media outlets are too busy whining about Russia all day, and are not attacking Trump on things that will actually affect the American people's day to day life, such as the end of net neutrality.

A few weeks ago, Trump reversed a rule allowing ISPs to sell your personal information to third parties. polls indicate the 8% of American people supported it, but they quietly went through with it anyways. I, personally, did not see the warranted outrage. Things like this are a strong indication that Americans need to gravitate away from corporate partisan media such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and take independent media more into consideration. They seem to be the ones reporting on things like this. Unfortunately, with the end of net neutrality, independent media may start to disappear.

Media Binge and Fast

                  The media binge and fast was not a completely new concept to me, but I thought it would be a cool concept to try out for the week. Every once and a while, I will get extremely sick of social media, and delete any social apps from my phone for a few days at a time. Eventually, when I put the apps back on my phone after the break, I find myself being interested in nothing else but catching up on everything that I missed.
                  My first step in the binge was to make sure that I finished all of my school related work before starting the binge, so that I could get the full experience. I then planned out my social media consumption – pinteresting during uninteresting lectures, going straight home to watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, constantly being on some type of social media platform on my phone, etc. By consuming myself in such mass amounts of media, I started to notice a few things. The first thing that I noticed was that I was extremely bored. All of the pins on my trending feed started to look the same, 13 Reasons Why got too depressing and over dramatic (as it naturally does anyways), and nothing new was being posted on any of the social media platforms that I was checking, because I was checking them all constantly. Another thing that I noticed was that I started to become extremely irritable towards people, more specifically, people that I was seeing in person on a regular basis as well as checking my social media platforms and seeing their posts. It was almost like I was constantly with them and was not getting any time apart from them. The third and final thing that stood out to me during the binge was that I was finding myself not wanting to do literally anything besides the binging. I was not interested in paying attention to lectures because I wanted to keep pinteresting, I did not want to go out to eat with my friends because I was in the middle of another episode of 13 Reasons Why, and I did not want to talk to anyone in person because I was too busy checking up on everyone else virtually. My overall experience from the binge was that yes, media can enhance our lives and we can enjoy it, but we should not let it consume us, because it takes away from other attributes of life.
                  Of course after the binge, came the fast, which at first was quite refreshing considering all of the media I was submersed in. I took a few steps in preparing for the fast as well, just as I did for the binge. First, I deleted all of the social media apps from my phone. Next, I attempted to not bring my laptop to classes that I did not need it for, so that I would not be tempted to surf the internet if I got bored. Then, I started actually fasting media. Once I was deep into fasting, I starting noticing a few things, just like I did during my binge. The first thing that I noticed was that I was even more bored not having my media than I was when I actually had it. What I mean by this, is that even when I got bored in class, while I was at home, etc., I did not have media to fall back on to entertain me. This resulted in even more brutal cases of boredom. The next thing that I noticed during the fast was that I felt very anxious about “being out of the loop”. My sorority's main form of mass communication is through our Facebook page, and without that, I was constantly feeling like I was missing something or like I was supposed to be somewhere. Let the record show, that after the fast, I checked the Facebook page, and nothing was even posted. The last thing that I noticed was that during the binge, I did not want to do anything except binge. However, during the fast, I wanted to find anything and everything to do with my free time, because I again, did not have media to fall back on to fill my time. I ended up prematurely studying for finals, starting on summer homework for my summer classes, and even packing up the things my room to move home for the summer.

                  Overall, I enjoyed the fast much more than the binge, but not until after the experience as over. I realized that the binge did not make me feel good in any way, and that it made me feel extremely dependent and clingy to media. The fast, however, forced me to get things done and actually talk to people in real life, so in the end it was more beneficial to me. As stating in the beginning, I also like to take a break from media sometimes just on my own, so the fast was very refreshing, especially compared to spending the entire day on the internet.

Extra Credit Blog: Polarization is like says the world is flat

How can we rid away with ignorance

We as a race, the human race, has mapped the world out (most of it) and has found that it indeed requires the characteristics of a sphere to be used  to define it. Round, 3-dimensional and full of varying peaks and valleys, our world still has so much to be discovered. The crazy thing is that it doesn't even have a mind to make conscious decisions.  

We do though. Time and time again ideas get split into main points and two sides are developed as the only logical approaches. Polarization like this is endorsed with the development of Google and Facebook's ingenues ways to give us "what we want", alongside the sell of everyone's personal information for business gain. Those two sides are over told, misrepresented, and blasted to the masses because they give the media huge views and ability to advertise to us, the addict looking for a like, re-tweet or whatever our fix of notifications, so we don't feel withdraw from social acceptance. 

At this point, we care more about us and our novelty, then about creating a spherical world that is nothing more then the two ends of a circular issue.

 Left or right. If I swipe left, will I answer right, do I retweet bad news for a couple hundred more views. Should time spent learning my rights or spent hunting more likes. I'm stuck in this bubble day by day, seeing my reflection  in every which way. If this is a bubble, the world is a sphere, then how can I only pick options based on fear. Polarization has two sides about it, but nothing attractive. true democracy is broken and seems subtracted. The world that once was, held the same message, for all to decide, now we are stuck in these bubbles, forced to roll to two sides.

To sum up, if the people who run the country can buy our info, cater our experience and know our deficits, create platforms that can only be responded to by fear of the unknown, created a tech world that addicts people to their message, the only solace we have isn't democracy. It is hopefully in this dark tunnel of unethical information control, we can come together and shed light from the two end  and finally find our way out of this two sided, linear frame of mind laid down by people who we thought could be trsuted.

Extra Credit: Political Polarization in the U.S.

            Political polarization became extremely relevant over the course of the last year. In the historic 2016 election period, the Trump vs. Hillary debate was all anyone could talk, or should I say argue, about.
            Political polarization is the idea that everything has become very conservative or very liberal; nobody is willing to learn about or hear from the other side. Politically, I tend to find ideas I stand by on both sides of the spectrum. However, as a fan of neither candidate in this election cycle, I was very much an outsider watching my peers go back and forth about why their preferred candidate should win the election. It was something I couldn’t escape. I watched people debate in class, while walking around campus, and in my own circle of friends. No one was willing to let up and listen to his or her opponent’s point of view.

            Something that is not helping the political polarization of the U.S. is the array right- and left-leaning news sources. No one is getting absolutely correct information from these news networks because they each support a specific political agenda. Arguers for Trump would cite facts they heard on Fox News, and Clinton supports would in turn use MSNBC to back up their claims. If we truly want to fix the division of political agendas and work toward a common goal, our news sources need to focus on putting out the truth, not just what they know their audience wants to hear.

            Political polarization is the exact opposite of the dissoi logoi fragment: the idea that there are two sides to every argument. In order to fix the heated opposition in our country, we must believe in this idea. If we don’t learn this soon, the U.S. will become more and more divided as time goes on. As American citizens, we should want what is best for our country. To do so, we need to be open to the ideas of others.

The role media plays in our everyday lives

Media manages to catch the attention of most students today for either all or most of our everyday lives. I idea of  a media binge is probably much more accurate to our normal routine than a media fast, and that's what makes this experiment so interesting. We were challenged Monday - Wednesday to participate in a media binge. This basically means to immerse ourselves with as much media as we can at all times. To be honest, I would say that I'm pretty much always checking some form of media throughout my day.  I'm just used to being connected to family and friends through one form or another of media. Some of my most used forms would be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Netflix, and texting on my phone. I managed to be on my phone a lot for these 3 days of bingeing. However, I would say that when I was purposefully engaged constantly I found myself not wanting to be looking as much as I was. It started to become a hassle sometimes and I craved being free from any media during the day.
 After the 3 day binge, we were supposed to then complete a media fasting period from Friday - Saturday. This means being removed completely from media as much as possible and seeing how it affects our day. Coming straight off of constant media this was shockingly difficult to get used to. I found myself always reaching for my phone in various times throughout the day. I usually watch Netflix whenever I'm relaxing at home or not doing homework or something and this was weird to adapt to. I really just had to find a way to keep myself busy without using forms of media. I spent a lot of time with friends away from my house and many things outdoors. The absolute hardest thing about the media fast was not reaching for my phone during random moments of boredom throughout my day. I would say though that as the day went on and I really thought about what I was giving up I was glad that it was happening. It gave me a new perspective about how truly dependent a lot of us are on media this day in age. I hope that other students also felt similar feelings to me with how time consuming and pointless it all really is. We worry about not seeing what each other is up to on a day to day basis and we should learn to be content with our own day instead. After completing this assignment I have a new outlook on how often I should be engaged in media. I would encourage that other students try this experiment to see what changes they feel they should make after the binge and fasting period from media.

Media binge and fast (the ADD/ADHD perspective)

Media Binge and Fast (the ADD/ADHD perspective)

Hello. This weeks media assignment of indulging in as much screen time as possible and then pushing it away is a great idea. People often don't know what is good for them until someone makes them do it. 

People who constantly need to be connected can show behavior very similar to ADHD. Moving from app to app, hunting stimulus and social acceptance. Dopamine, that reassurance in the back of your brain is the cause. 

I have ADHD. A pretty heavy amount at that. I have trained myself not to get on Facebook, twitter, or even use my phone to often. Luckily enough this last week I had hours of homework and group work. Between co-writing a project paper in COMM 486 and posting to Facebook for our commons campaign this wasn't hard. 

The thing is that when finally finding times in the day were I can focus, I can't give those up. That is what made the media fast very hard. I usually spent time on my phone or laptop, doing research about things I'm interested or if an idea pops in my head I immediately look up something up. I did watch Netflix less, which I didn't watch it much before. Every now and again I would check emails for survey responses. 

College and life today heavily relies on the use of computers, phones and other technology. For someone with ADHD this can be daunting if they haven't devised a system for not getting caught up in the vast distractions that live on the internet. 

I have been doing a lot of research on ADD/ADHD and the things that in an average persons brain create the control ability of attention versus the latter. What facebook, snapchat, twitter and even tinder does to us is treat us like Pavlov's dog. 

With every notification comes a sound and a vibration, then a little message and and added number in the notifications count. Every time you get another like or reaction, your brain is giving of little bursts of dopamine, which is our brains reward drug. 

You release dopamine when listening to your favorite music, drinking whiskey and doing or accomplishing things that you associate as positive. With every notification or match on tinder, your brain is getting rewarded more and more and more. This is because you associate those responses with being important or wanted. 

Lack of dopamine regulation and an overall deficiency is one of the major contributing factors to the lack of ability a person with ADD/ADHD has to control their sustained focus. To clear up, people afflicted with ADD/ADHD can focus for extended periods, but the time in which the can is random and not consistent. 

Things like Facebook or any notification based social media can become very bad for people with ADD/ADHD. they can spend hours looking for ways in which to interact within these social realms, awaiting those little burst of reward that their under stimulated brains crave.

I participated very well this week in what the expectation of the assignment due to the schedule. Otherwise, following instruction that might potentially arrest any ability to focus on my schoolwork/job work or invade my personal relationships and motivations would have been not something I would have participated in.

Extra Credit

Confirmation Bias is what comes to mind when I think of filtering bubbles. Most people when they want to affirm their beliefs will look up something with the search terms already favoring their view. It’s really difficult to be on the Internet and get unbiased or objective results. YouTube has done a great job of personalizing users searches to be tailored to their likes and interests. I love being on YouTube when I don’t have any school work to do because when I look at the related searches it looks like videos that I would really enjoy, and I typically do. Most people that I talk with don’t get a whole lot of opposition politically on Facebook. I personally don’t have this problem because I have several friends that lean both ways politically and I’m always surprised by what I see. I follow several twitter users that I disagree with politically on virtually every issue, but I like to know what the other side is talking about.
It’s vitally important that we are confronted with both sides of an issue, but if I’m YouTube or Facebook I want my websites to be as intuitive and personal to users as they can be, and by showing up more results that people are interested in is a great way to keep users attention. I don’t believe it’s on Facebook or YouTube to force people to look at material they don’t necessarily agree with, but seeing both sides of an issue are also very important to having an informed society. It does hurt our society when we just surround ourselves with people who agree with us and affirm our beliefs because then we get stuck in our own bubble with never confronting an opposing opinion. Polarization can be good when it involves team sports where you want everyone on your team to be on the same page, but polarization on every other level can be awful.
Final point about polarization, dissoi logoi, and filter bubbles that really bothers me is people seeing politics like team sports. It’s seems like if we’re going to vote for a candidate then we need to defend everything that candidate does, and I think that’s asinine. Just because we might like someone being a Republican or Democrat doesn’t mean we have to justify all of his or her actions. We shouldn’t trap ourselves in bubbles and believe everything “our” person/nominee/candidate does. We should hope they push policies that we like, and when they do, let’s praise them, but when they don’t let’s not find a way to justify their policy just because their on our “team”.

Media Binge and Fast

To be honest, I have a media problem. I’ll be the first to admit that I find more comfort on the Internet than I do with face-to-face interaction. I’m an awkward human, and the Internet is an escape.

I’m on every social media platform: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, VSCO, Tumblr, and I have two Twitter accounts (because I was told to keep my “journalism-y” stuff separate from my personal stuff).

If I’m being honest right now, I’d say typically spend between 6-8 hours each day on the Internet.

I know, it’s a lot.

I could say that much of it is due to the fact that I am a working journalist and a journalism student, and that my jobs and studies require me to be up-to-date on each and every breaking story. I wouldn’t be wrong by saying that. Still, probably 20-30% of my time online each day is not spent on news sites.

Whether it’s watching videos on YouTube or just doing some casual Facebook-stalking of friends from back home, I’m guilty of spending time online that I could spend being a productive member of society.

The media binge was easy. I didn’t change a thing.

I’m always reading news from a plethora of different sites – Facebook, Twitter, CNN, USA Today, NBC, HuffPost, FOX and CBS, to name a few. Along with that, I write several news articles each week, and am constantly online looking at the latest news stories.

Needless to say, I had a good time during the binge.

The media fast was a bit different.

I’m not going to lie, I slipped up a few times. One of those times was right before class, when Jon walked by and saw me on Facebook, observing that my fast didn’t seem to be going very well. I couldn’t argue with him there.

I still had to be online sometimes. My job as a journalist, and my journalism and broadcasting studies require it. There’s not much I can do about that.

But I was able to cut out some time spent just messing around on social media each day. My extra time gave me the opportunity to do things that were better for me.

I already go to the gym each day, but I often have to cut my workouts short because I got behind schedule when I was preoccupied with the Internet. (Mostly) eliminating that distraction allowed me to spend more time doing things that were better for me.

Overall, I was a lot more aware of the time I waste on a daily basis online, and I took the opportunities to be more productive.

It was an interesting experience and while I can’t say it will significantly change my habits, I think it opened my eyes quite a bit.

After the binge and fast, I can’t commit to completely scaling back my online presence, but I definitely have a new perspective, and will make a more active effort to curb my time-wasting online.