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Importance of Attention

Buying Attention

The above image summarizes my biggest takeaway from this course; that our attention is constantly being fought for. The image shows multiple people each going about their lives seemingly in a hurry, the one thing all these individuals have in common is their faces are burried in a phone. To me this image shows the influence technology has in society. The evolution of technology is the reason attention is one of the most valuable things in the world. Companies, politicians, loved ones are in a constant war with one another trying to get more attention. Technology has allowed for us to have the world at our fingertips and for all of its benefits it does have its downfalls. I realized this when I performed the “Digital Detox” for this course. The digital detox showed me the power of human interaction and how there is benefits to slowing down and just being in the moment. When you have the world at your fingertips you must be able to seperate the good from the bad. An individual has to know and understand the concepts of flooding, trolls, fake news, advertisement and various other forms of media. This is crucial because unless you understand how these concepts work then you put yourself at risk to fall victim and have your decisions influenced by outside sources. When other people see this picture I hope it makes them think of the influence technology has in our lives especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Once they see the influence it has I hope it encourages them to take a step back from their devices and interact more with the world and loved ones around them.

Sources:

https://images.app.goo.gl/gwKBFwMpVhPijCqS7

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Who’s Accountable ?

Although the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 was, “short-lived” as the Supreme Court viewed it unconstitutional. The Safe Harbor Amendment also known as Section 230 of the CDA still survives to this day and provides a protection for social media companies that is not afforded in many other industries. Section 230 is unique in that it not only excuses social media companies from being held accountable but it also grants them the right to monitor content on their platforms while still being protected from content that may promote hatred and violence. A perfect example of the application of the Safe Harbor Amendment is seen in the terms of service agreement when, “social media platforms claim “the right but not the responsibility” to remove users and delete comments.” (Gilespie, 31).  

Gilespie’s title “The Myth of a Neutral Platform” refers to the myth that social media is this magical place where individuals will be treated equally no matter their views/race/ethnicity. The reason this is a myth is because there is little to no consequence for individuals who attack/harass others on social media. An example of this is seen on twitter, “every day there are thousands of people attacked with no punishments.” (Patrick and Dan). 

Although social media may never truly become a neutral platform, the laws surrounding social media need to evolve in order to protect and promote a more inclusive society. Just as businesses are constantly evolving in order to stay relevant the laws regulating these companies also need to evolve. As Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change, to perfect is to change often.”

Sources

Twitter.com 

Gillespie, Tarleton. Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media. Yale University Press, 2018

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Is Freedom of Speech Harmful ?

For all the wonders freedom of speech provides it is a double edged sword. Two examples of freedom of speech being used in a harmful fashion are “trolling” and “flooding.” Tim Wu defines trolling as, “the speech-control techniques, which seek to humiliate, harass, discourage, and even destroy targeted speakers using personal threats, embarrassment, and ruining of their reputations.” (Wu, 560). In a world where it takes a lifetime to build a reputation trolling poses a serious threat, as it can undo someone’s life work. There are constantly new examples of trolling in the United States occurring, a recent one is President Trump retweeting an image, with the purpose of harming his rival in the upcoming election, Demcratic nominee Joe Bidden.  

Flooding is another negative example of freedom of speech. Wu defines flooding as reverse censorship, “techniques targeted at winning the war for attention. these techniques depend on the idea of generating a sufficient volume of information to drown out disfavored speech.” (Wu, 565). Wu includes an excerpt from  King, Pan, and Roberts stating, “the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to distract the public and change the subject.” (Wu, 566). In the United States we are constantly being flooded with information. The perfect example of this is social media, “Researchers have estimated that Twitter has as many as 48 million bot users.” (Wu, 567). These bots can easily influence viewers’ opinions especially when you take into consideration that many individuals are extremely busy and take what they see at face value. 

After gaining a greater understanding of the situation, I believe there should be a legal framework in place, to deal with communication techniques. I believe this because misinformation can cause great harm to not only individuals but the society as a whole. 

Sources:

Tim Wu, Is the First Amendment Obsolete ?

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The Power of Dorito’s

The argument Williams makes regarding advertisement, is how advertisers must embrace the criticisms of advertisement in order to create better advertisements. Doritos Super Bowl advertisements are a beautiful example of this. For example view the following ads;

Doritos Ultrasound SuperBowl Commercial 

Doritos Revival Super Bowl Commercial 

These two advertisements show that doritos has an advanced understanding of the criticism of advertisements and used it to create an, “so ludicrously exaggerated as to include the critical response.” (Williams, “Advertising: The Magic System,” 331). In these ads doritos is not just selling the physical bag of doritos, they are selling the idea that a bag of doritos has such extreme flavor that it’s the driving force for life. In the first advertisement, Doritos are so good that the husband is eating them at his wife’s ultrasound and the baby can sense the doritos nearby and is born prematurely as he/she desperately wants Doritos. In the second advertisement the Doritos can revive anything, even a human.  This is important because as R.Williams writes, “It is impossible to look at modern advertising without realizing that the material object being sold is never enough.” (Williams, “Advertising: The Magic System,” 335). It is obvious that Doritos has a sophisticated understanding of advertising. They make claims that are insane and in no way possible but, it generates a humorous response from viewers and helps attract future customers. 

Sources

Raymond Williams “Advertising: The Magic System,”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZwrY861tdc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugn_qmQ0NFo

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COVID-19 and Media

Over the past month my understanding of media has evolved, but not because I learned something new. It evolved because I gained a better understanding of how powerful media is due to COVID-19. The severity of COVID-19 has limited almost all of my social interactions to social media and applications such as zoom. Never in a million years did I believe my social life would be limited in these ways and that I would rarely leave my house. Along with having all my social interactions limited, my reliance on the media has increased as I am constantly checking the news for updates on the global pandemic that is COVID-19. 

As thankful as I am for the power the media has, I also fear how the whole situation revolving around COVID-19 may be affecting mental health. I can not speak for others but, I for one find my current life to be extremely stressful. Part of the reason is we are going through something that was not only unexpected but has never been experienced before. Due to COVID-19 people are being forced to stay home from work and some are being laid off. The uncertainty being caused by COVID-19 can lead to a surge in individuals suffering from anxiety/stress related mental health issues. This can be a serious issue because as Will Kane highlighted in his article, “A student with anxiety is 3.2 times more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs, the findings show.” Another reason stress and anxiety levels may rise is because of how information surrounding COVID-19 is being encoded and then delivered through the media. Even though it may cause mass panic, I think it is best that COVID-19 be portrayed in this way in order to help the healthcare system by flattening the curve.

Sources:

Kane, Will. “Anxiety Epidemic Brewing on College Campuses, Researchers Find.” Berkeley News, 19 Apr. 2019, news.berkeley.edu/2019/04/18/anxiety-epidemic-brewing-on-college-campuses-researchers-find/.