Tag Archive for personal notes

Media Bias: Personal Reflections for a Less Cynical Future

To infinityEveryone has biases, and the inclusion of media does not change that. In fact, just as media is biased towards certain people (e.g., handheld gaming consoles are biased towards young people) (Ohler, 2010), we are biased towards certain media. Conducting a media bias inventory allows us to understand our biases and determine the best way to either overcome them or embrace them. In this post, I will address my media biases by discussing my reaction to them, what I think I should improve, and how I can use this specific knowledge as a media psychologist.

My media biases did not surprise me. I tend to be very aware of what I am doing whether it’s right or needs to be improved. Personality affects our media biases, as it does so many other things. In my case, my drive toward perfection, drives my need to have an intimate knowledge of, and proficiency in, as many media as can get my hands on. It drives me to learn about it, both in their intended uses and their “meta” uses. aggregateIn other words, I strive to understand how people typically use it, whether those uses were intentional or not during it’s creation/development. It was not surprising, then, that my bias was very much social, exploratory, philosophical, and escapism driven. I use media to connect to my friends, to understand them (and others) and their preferences/opinions as a means of broadening my perspective, and a way to escape my physical micro-environment and connect to my sociomental environment.

I tend to be incredibly cynical in all aspects of my life, but where media is concerned, I am pointedly so. I approach my media use with reckless caution- my new term… you’re welcome to use it as you see fit. Though I love diving head first into new media and exploring its capabilities, I tend to be cynical about the information/people I meet while using them. Claims are, in my opinion, things to be verified by my experience and the experience of the collective (Borg, anyone?).

I do, I don'tI am proud my ability/tendency to be cynical and critical of that which is presented as fact via various media because I feel it allows me to learn more and work outside my biases. That being said, this cynicism is also the thing I must work to improve. I don’t mean that I should learn to be MORE cynical. I mean that I still tend to trust certain sources. Manjoo (2008) notes that we look to sources that already back up our opinions. While I agree that we have that tendency, I do not think it insurmountable. I tend to favor word-of-mouth reviews, information from sources I have agreed with in the past, and media that make logical sense to me. If I’m going to truly overcome biases (not that it is possible, but that striving to keeps them in check), I must seek out differing opinions and allow myself to remain flexible and better informed.

As a media psychologist, being able to pursue truth in spite of personal biases, and being able to determine and articulate the biases of others is paramount. We cannot understand how and why people use and are affected by media if we cannot look past our own biases. The very essence of our jobs is to remain open-minded and receptive to all forms that the intersection between individuals and media can take. We cannot teach others what media literacy means, without being media literate.

One sizeUnderstanding my biases is the first step to consistently perceiving the biases of others, and a step towards becoming a successful media psychologist. Though I am passionate about an extensive variety of media, and I remember when media meant only TV, radio, 8-bit game consoles, and circularly dialed analog telephones, I am cautious about what is presented on these media unless I am familiar with the source. Understanding these biases allows me to work past them, focusing on broader horizons, keeping in mind that doing so better prepares me for helping others do the same.

Reference:

Manjoo, F. (2008). True enough: Learning to live in a post-fact society. Wiley.

Lisa Loeb Is My Hero

My birthday was Sunday (the 22nd). As a birthday present, Jake bought me tickets to see one of my all time favorite singers, Lisa Loeb. I promised myself I would write about all the things that happened that night 1) so I could remember them, and 2) because there were some pretty deeply seeded emotions that came rolling through. But first, a little background.

Tails, Lisa’s first album, came out when I was in high school. Just like everyone else on the planet, the first song I knew from the album was ‘Stay’. Reality Bites was a VERY popular movie among my friends. ‘Stay’ used to come on all the time, but I especially remember it being a staple at the roller-rink; even now. I liked the song so much that I decided to get the album. Pretty soon Waiting For Wednesday came on the radio too. However, my favorites have always been Taffy and Garden of Delights, but I digress. When the second album came out, I had put a deposit on it at Musicland (Yeah… PRE Sam Goody). I remember listening to Firecracker on repeat, desperately trying to memorize the songs. I specifically remember the song ‘Jake’ cause I had a friend at the time that I was hoping it would apply to. It definitely didn’t.

The bottom line is that these songs all meant something to me (well.. MEAN something). They helped me through some very rough times during high school and after. The passion and emotion in Lisa’s songs, as well as the vagueness of the words being applicable in a myriad of situations, let me express pent up emotion, gave me words when I couldn’t find my own, and gave me an outlet. As a singer too- being able to belt these songs at the top of my lungs when breathing through the notes helps to comfort me. But other than the flood of emotional ties I knew I had, there were ties I hadn’t realized I’d made until Saturday evening.

Just like anyone, when I was in high school I didn’t realize what I had. What I mean is I was (mostly) happy, energetic, and happy with myself physically. I liked my style, I liked my friends (obviously I wanted to be more popular, but who doesn’t to some extent, ya know?) and I liked my daily schedule in general. I guess what I’m trying to say is I felt like I didn’t know who I was then, but looking back I was exactly who I am meant to be. Seeing the picture of Lisa and I shocked me into tears, because I am not that person anymore. Here I was with my hero… an icon of basically everything I love and want to be, and I am WAY off base. I was close and didn’t realize what I had/who I was. Now I’m WAY off track. But it’s okay. Because if Lisa Loeb can bust her ass to accomplish the things that matter most to her and make a career out of being true to her self and her identity and come out with a new album (No Fairy Tale.. which I LOVE), I can get myself back on track. My goals aren’t all that lofty, but they’re what I want and who I am.

So I sobbed a lot that night. I was profoundly moved by the emotional ties that hit me like a ton of bricks, the songs that I have loved for nearly 20 years being sung by my hero who wrote them, and the sad realization that I completely missed my chance to express ANY of it to her because I was so nervous/fangirl wrecked that I didn’t manage to say anything to her at all…. It was an experience that I’ll never forget. Now every time I look at the vinyl (yeah… I got VINYL BABY) and I see where she signed it, I’ll remember who I am, where I’m going, and who my inspiration is.

And that she thought my purse was cute *hairflip*.

 

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.

Typewriters: A Response

keysI used to love using our typewriter (though, to be fair, ours wasn’t more than an electric typewriter). There was something comforting about the snap and hum as the switch was flipped. It was light brown on the bottom and dark brown on top. I hated the color then, but it’s one of my favorites now. But I digress. Putting the paper in and making sure it was perfectly lined up, the whirring of the wheel as I rolled the paper up to the “correct” spot for the pretend address I was going to put on the very important secretarial document I was creating… of course, it only consisted of one sentence or so. The hunt and peck was too much for me to to write as much as I wanted.

just writeBut for me, the passion didn’t develop into a passion for reading, or for making stories out of the things that I saw. For me, the passions that developed were learning, organization, formalities, technicalities… The feeling of a keyboard underneath my fingers, the clicking of the keys and the variety that come with the new developments in technology like an ergonomic design, loud clacking keys like on my Das, the muffled sounds of a Mac keyboard… it’s the reason I cling to my love of Blackberries (despite the fact that I still have an iPhone). It also turned into my love of school supplies. Overwhelming excitement when I see a black piece of ruled paper, and my inability to throw away notebooks, used or new.

Ultimately, it has influenced everything I am passionate about in my career. I get to learn things, then organize my thoughts and express them with others. A highlighter with a research article and a coffee while the sun beats down on me through my office window, a laptop and a browser window showing search results from my latest PsychInfo search. I don’t know how I would live without the feelings I get from sliding my fingers across the keys, or turning the pages desperate to devour the next page of information…

And now I get to sit back and marvel at how one reflection can start someone else on a journey that is related, but not identical.