Tag Archive for homework

Digital Connections in a Digital Landscape

RuinsDigital citizenship is a blanket term describing challenges and shifts that result from communities being geographically far more widespread and driven by electronic communication and connection. As with any stereotypical Western community, we consider individual needs in social contexts. The landscape of digital citizenship has undergone monumental change, as have the social groups served by that citizenship (Ohler, 2010). In this post, I will consider the transformation of one such group- extended family- as well as the transformation of the face of digital citizenship, and finally what these changing landscapes mean to media psychologists.

I remember getting two very sad phone calls as a child. The first came in second grade from my “boyfriend” Ryan. He called to tell me he was moving to Washington DC and he wouldn’t be coming back from Christmas break; I cried for days. The second call came when my best friend, Erin, moved to Hawaii. I got what we now affectionately refer to as “snail mail” letters from her a few times, but there is only so long a 6th grader can keep that up. Both of these examples involve people being separated across country, but even a move across town used to mean never seeing someone again. Telephones were (and are) amazing ways to keep in contact with loved ones, but if you lost the number in a move, or the number changed you were out of luck. Add this to the cost of out-of-state and long distance charges or collect calls, and it became nearly impossible to sustain geographically dispersed relationships. Luckily, media has helped us overcome these tribulations.

With each new media development, our ability to stay in contact has improved. From phones, to local bulletin board systems using 2400 baud external modem connections, each progression was a step closer to social media and constant contact. Now we have clouds, social media, and Google search to help us remember or find phone numbers. And that’s only if we want phone numbers. Email addresses, URLs, social media accounts… they all facilitate the (re)connection of loved ones. One simple search (along with a, hopefully, recognizable avatar), and you can reconnect with the entirety of your past (and yes, I reconnected with Erin). snail-mail-suzikThis climax of intense media availability resolves with relationships that have shifted from physically centered connections to relationships that are more sociomentally centered (Chayko, 2008). We get to know others more fully, and make connections with them based on interests and emotions, rather than appearance. Suddenly, distances aren’t so insurmountable, and we find ourselves connecting with others across the globe. As we ride off into the sunset at the end of this narrative arc, we take with us every friend and family member we’ve ever cared to reconnect with, thanks to evolved digital mediation.

With the proliferation of constantly developing media that connects us in a variety of ways, the responsibilities and rights so cherished and fought over throughout history (Ohler, 2010) shift and evolve as well. Online anonymity gives way to disinhibition, flaming, and dishonesty (Joinson, 2007). It also, however, allows us to explore who we are and what we value (Burke & Stets, 2009). Validating identities- if we can wade through the cyberbullies and hackers- helps meet some of our basic needs on the individual level. But the civic traditions of our ancestors haven’t been completely lost on us. Social norms and constraints motivate us to participate in a global community where collective intelligence (Jenkins, 2008) and critical value (Shirky, 2010) push the limits of what we could have created in the times of the Spartans, Romans, Italians, or Revolutionaries (Ohler, 2010).

Media has allowed our communities to expand almost infinitely and, as my hero’s uncle aptly said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Ancient civilizations trudged through the fight for participation in their communities. That fight was punctuated by the creation of media. spider-man-ethicsTheatre, text, movies, and so on allowed them to spread communication further, thereby spreading influence (Ohler, 2010). The climax of this narrative is the culmination of seemingly endless forms of communication to the farthest reaches of the Earth (and beyond), and a people who are more altruistic while simultaneously becoming aggressively antagonistic. How can we overcome the antagonists? How does civility overcome disinhibition? That’s where media psychologists come in.

As media psychologists, we have the tools to create our own critically valuable footprint in the sand. By understanding the way people do and are likely to act given the constantly evolving media, we are able to educate others (using the light side of the “Force”), help them learn what it means to be a digital citizen, and how to share with others the rights and responsibilities inherent in membership.

As global, digital, and local communities evolve, adapt, and merge, our power as citizens follows proportionately. With that power, we have a responsibility to protect ourselves and others, allowing all citizens the chance to get what they need from the communities while creating opportunities for others to simultaneously do the same. If the world comes to an apocalyptic, riotous, cannibalistic end when technology defies us so, then, must we flourish, support, and defend in times of connection.


Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.
Joinson, A. (2007). Disinhibition and the internet. In J. Gackenbach (Ed.), Psychology and the internet : intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal implications. (pp. 76-92). Amsterdam; Boston: Elsevier/Academic Press.
Ohler, J. (2010). Digital community, digital citizen. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.
Shirky, C. (2010). How cognitive surplus will change the world. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html
Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence culture where old and new media collide. New York; London: New York University Press.

Maybe Writing In My Blog Will Keep Me From Throwing My Lappy. Maybe.

Microsoft Sucks

Warning: This is a ginger rage article (i.e., explicit language)

Whoever created Word 2013 should have a cheese grater run over his/her/their feet just before making him/her/them walk on Tobasco sauce, lemon, and salt. Separately.

It. Is. Horrible. First of all, I don’t want a theme. I want to have complete control over my formatting, whether you think I can handle all the options or not. Make them available but not mandatory. Secondly, don’t make me type in a fucking text box. I don’t care how easy that makes it to move entire paragraphs to the corner of the page, it’s annoying; get it off my screen. This is Word, not publisher or whatever other creativity suite you’ve included. I am not making a website, thank you, I am attempting UNSUCCESSFULLY to do a HOMEWORK assignment! Third, not everyone writes only ONE page. WHY CAN’T I HAVE TWO PAGES???

I am trying to finish my homework! Word USED to be helpful! Now it’s making me take twice as long to write stuff cause I CAN’T SEE WHAT I’M WRITING!

And, for the record, I don’t care if I look like an idiot because I didn’t spend more than 3 hours looking for answers to my questions. It shouldn’t take more than the 3 hours I looked. “Small tweaks” shouldn’t lead a seasoned and highly functional 2010 user to lose their EVER LOVING MINDS when trying to get rid of a god damn text box and trying to see their SECOND PAGE! So, for those of you who have make it this far reading this post, please don’t leave me fixes in the comments. I don’t care. I’m done with 2013. I would rather have 2003 at this point.

Word, your bullshit took so long to mess with that my comp battery is dead and I still haven’t figured out how to see the rest of my paper!!! What. The. ACTUAL. Fuck?!

I still wanna throw my lappy. I am gonna go reinstall Word 2010 again. Wait… What do you mean this product key is not available for download? I already purchased your outdated-but-still-better-than-the-new-shit program.

I quit. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go sob in the fetal position until my deadline in two hours.

Academic “Struggles” for the Academic

illusion comic - educationSo I got my grade back from my PhD essay this week and the word my professor used was “thin”. Which I absolutely agree with 150%. He said the writing is insightful and well done, but that the question was only somewhat addressed. I agree with that too. So why did I do it? Because I’m a straight A student (aka honor student, nerd, academic, suck up, etc.). Not an excuse? Let me give you some insight.

Not all straight A students get their grades because they’re incredibly smart, suck information up like a Dyson (not using Hoover… I refuse to conform), or spend ALL their free time studying. What each of us knows how to do, however, is work the system. Now, that’s not to say that we don’t have a lot of work to put into doing that because we do. What I’m saying is that we all have figured out that when you give teachers what they’re looking for- figure out that magic formula at the intersection of what they say and what they like to see- you get the grades you want. Sometimes it’s MUCH easier said than done. There are several reasons for this. For one (this is my BIGGEST PET PEEVE IN SCHOOL), the teacher may be telling you he/she wants one thing but grading you on a totally different thing altogether; invisible standards are nearly impossible to meet (unless you’re a mind reader). Other students setting an unexpected curve is another problem. You could be the smartest, most prepared student in the class, but if another student hits the professor’s invisible mark, you have no excuses. They’ve shown the professor that their standard is not unreasonable and everyone else suffers the repercussions. There’s another one that I suffer from most. It’s the reason I didn’t turn in the essay I’d WORKED TWO HOURS ON, but turned in this “thin” post instead. Self-doubt.

comicstrip-rubricsNever EVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, doubt what you’re doing. Every academic has done this at some point or another. Why? Because every academic has been burnt at least once. We think we’ve figured out the professor- “I want this many pages, I want it to be creative, and I DO NOT want you to regurgitate” turns into “Not long enough. Your creative approach took focus away from the facts. What I wanted was every single thing I said all semester long so I can hear how brilliant I am.” You feel AMAZING about a paper you’ve turned in and you get a HORRIBLE grade on it (I mean.. a C? REALLY?!). You have to spend the rest of the semester submitting to the format, you now are PAINFULLY aware of, trying to fix your grade. Assuming it wasn’t your FINAL that you fucked up on in the first place! And the kicker… the thing that makes this whole mess so incredibly painful, is that you knew. The whole time… every time you read that grading rubric, you KNEW what it said was NOT what the teacher actually wanted. You knew because you ignored the others and gave them what would feed their ego and did brilliantly. But they convinced you that this time it would be different. This was a big, special project that needed extra oomph. It needed to take your soul from your spleen (or wherever your soul is kept.. I’m a ginger, so I don’t have one) and POUR it out into the paper. You TRUSTED them. And your friends were interpreting it the same way. But that ONE JERK. That ONE little miss perfect got it right. They ignored what was explicitly written on the requirements and fed the ego. And you got that stupid C.

phd011812sWell… That’s what happened this time. Kind of. See.. an academic LIVES for feedback, because it’s the only way to know what the professor is looking for. Give us format, specific guidelines, and feedback and we can give you what you want. The word creativity is like acid (unless it’s how to creatively prepare for the honor society’s big Halloween fundraiser). I know how to write an essay. I know how to write an informative research paper using the information provided. What I don’t know is how to write a 2-3 paragraph post giving my insight from a first person point of view.

So at the end of the day, I abandoned the page and a half long paper in essay format with zero first person sentences to post what it seemed was wanted. I didn’t listen to myself… didn’t follow my gut. Didn’t hold true to my writing style. I have to remember that it IS possible for ME to be the jerk that sets the standard; goes against the specified requirements to submit an assignment I’m proud of.

Sigh. This week I will kick ass and take ALL THE NAMES. And I will NOT second guess myself… it takes too long to write an assignment twice anyway.

Web Bias

In considering bias, I have come to realize how important common sense and investigation are when we are receiving messages.

There is no way around bias regardless of the source. Whether it originates from us or another source it has to be considered if we are to undertake critical thinking. Web 2.0 brought us post-modernism and the prevalence of prosumers and convergence, where the knowledge of the many dwarf the knowledge of the few, and the media that the message is conveyed on makes a difference (Jenkins, 2008). This should all be common sense to those who apply critical thinking to incoming information, but it isn’t necessarily. And even if it is, a reminder every once in a while so we aren’t taking it for granted doesn’t seem like it could hurt.

There are several things to think about in controlling for bias. In fact, the sheer amount of things to consider gets to be nearly overwhelming; neither ignoring the notion of bias nor letting it paralyze us will get us further in our pursuit of truth. Though I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of what is thrown out at me, and leaned toward trusted resources for information, there are things I hadn’t considered: whether the information matches what is commonly accepted as truth, how the information was obtained (e.g., scientific methods vs. intuition) or changed (e.g., how it was edited), the opposing argument’s validity, and how things like audience and context may affect the message (Driscoll & Brizee, 2013; Kirk, 1996; Shermer, 2009; “The PhotoShop Effect,” 2006).

Because everyone is biased (both producer and consumer), there is no perfect way to correct for, avoid, or abolish bias. However, the more cognizant we are of it, the better chance we have of getting to the most accurate information available and using it in the most effective ways.


Driscoll, D., & Brizee, A. (2013). Purdue OWL: Evaluating sources of information. Retrieved from http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/553/3/

Jenkins, H. (2008). Convergence culture where old and new media collide. New York; London: New York University Press.

Kirk, E. (1996). Evaluating internet information. Retrieved from http://web.archive.org/web/20040825040101/http://www.library.jhu.edu/researchhelp/general/evaluating/

Shermer, M. (2009). Michael Shermer. Baloney Detection Kit. Retrieved August 26, 2013, from http://www.michaelshermer.com/2009/06/baloney-detection-kit/

The Photoshop Effect. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP31r70_QNM&feature=youtube_gdata_player


Best. Quote. Ever.

I’m doing my homework; looking at media bias (makes sense, right? Last week was critical thinking…). And we’re watching a video featuring Michael Shermer from Skeptic Magazine. He’s talking about the “Baloney Detector Kit” (I knew I was going to be highly amused just from that). So in the first few minutes, he straight up says, “… you want to have a mind open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brains fall out.”