Lost in cyberspace

Cyberspace:
1. The realm of electronic communication
2. Virtual reality

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The thing that leapt out at me most during one of our readings this week was this idea of being “pulled” into cyberspace. I find it interesting how we refer to cyberspace as a geographic place, much so that we use terminology such as “visiting” a website or “entering” a chat room. There are many positives about cyberspace, like the sense of community. But what happens when people fall deeply into this community and begin to confuse their online existence it with the real world. We often see YouTube clips of online gamers viciously verbally abusing other gamers through their headset and sometimes physically attacking their computer or gaming console when something doesn’t go their way. What I didn’t realize is that this is an actual addiction – there have been documentaries on Internet and gaming addiction being treated as a very serious illness. There are now self help websites and organisations where people can post about their addiction. I found that the majority of addicts were young boys, typically aged 10-15 years old, spending 10+ hours a day playing online. It is now understandable how they are pulled in to this virtual world – they are not doing much else. Much like any other addiction, when they aren’t online they are thinking about being online and therefore lose focus in real life activities such as school, sport, and familial commitments.

 

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Street Violence – Reflection

An issue which I found to be significant in the media is violence, and in particular, street violence. All kinds of mediascapes contribute to street violence in one way or another. This includes the influence from certain television programs, films, music etc. Not only is violence represented throughout the media, but violent related behaviour as a result of drug and alcohol abuse is common, sending an important yet persuasive message to audiences. Images and music film clips especially tend to present violence semiotically, particularly through the use of gender ideologies; such as men being portrayed as mysterious and dangerous.

In relation to street violence some popular topics I found the media liked to exaggerate were schoolies, riots, protests and nightlife. When the media focuses on these issues they tend to  single out certain vicinities as well, often producing a poor reputation for that area. An example would be the Cronulla riots in 2005 where the media played a significant role by influencing locals on which side to take in an discriminating manner. The series of incidents known as the Cronulla riots have echoed throughout the town and surrounding areas to this day. Right-wing media groups had been accused of broadcasting political agendas via radio and print media, flaring tension between locals. The media used this sense of community to connect with locals on a personal level,  and even encouraged violent behaviour.

Ageism is also a factor, especially when the media talks about schoolies violence. The ideology of teenagers is highly pressured within the media. For example it is easy to represent a group of teens as ‘out of control’ rather than, say, a group of elderly people. Violence is an easy topic for the media to nudge on the emotions of readers. Language if often in a negative tone which can make the reader feel uncomfortable, concerned, and scared. The way information is presented is just as important as the content itself, as emphasis is placed on particular words and phrases, audiences are more likely to be convinced.

 Violence portrayed in the media through television, films, video games and music has been known to increase the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour. This material is harmful especially to the young, prompting immediate and long-term effects. Representations of violence in the media directly provides a child with  particular ideas and experiences which shape their attitudes and influence their behaviours. It is important to consider these mediums as elements in a controlled societal media among children especially. This is because certain characteristics, environments and media content can affect the degree of media violence.

Many people don’t actually realise how powerful the media is. It’s power derives from accessibility and the fact that it is all around us, everywhere we go. Following initial presentations of media violence, other forms of media are then used to perpetuate and emphasise outcomes. This is common within traditional news media such as TV broadcasting, radio, magazines, newspapers and other forms of print media. The media achieves this by blasting biased perspectives on violence related issues, in hopes to mould the minds of viewers to their own attitudes. Language, tone, lighting and sound all add to this effect of influential media.

BUT something I find to be more significant is that…

As violence is continuously targeted and now this new era of social media is evolving, now criticism of violence is also in the hands of the audience – of what is known as the outbreak of citizen journalism. There are new, different, instant types of distribution which are hard to keep up with, proving difficulty when trying to regulate user content. Within the public sphere, sites such as Facebook and YouTube are used to discuss and propel violent behaviour. Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online through these platforms. Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst this user generated content may be used for research and entertainment, it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. These videos uploaded by users which incorporate violence are often in public places such as schools, parks and just on the streets.

It’s issues like these which fuel moral panic about the media, as we are told to trust and believe what they say; however the outcome is not always favourable. As citizen journalists, the role of the media is ever-changing in a free and open public sphere. The representation of violence within the media is already being altered as a result of online prosumers.

Street Violence – Online Media

Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online. This ‘cyber hate’ is typically used to discriminate, threat, and warn victims. Sites such as Facebook and YouTube have been known to propel violent behaviour.

Facebook, for example, has been proven as a powerful tool with relation to violent intimidation. In some cases it is used to organise a meeting time and place for violent behaviour. When this information is posted on networking sites such as Facebook, it is then able to be dispersed online within the public sphere. Subsequently, this causes more people to be involved in acts of violence.

In August 2010, an article posted by The Economist outlined an issue where  two teenagers were gunned down while riding a motorcycle in Columbia. Their names had appeared on a “hit list” which was posted on Facebook that included death threats and menacing messages. The victims were warned and told they  had three days to depart or else they would be in danger of these violent acts once again.

Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst it may be used for research and entertainment it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. In 2006, the issue became so extensive that politicians in the U.K. sought to legislate against violence on YouTube, with U.K. ministers claiming that the videos “fuel random acts of violence.”

An example would be an incident which occurred  in April 2008 where six teenage girls in Florida beat up their peer whilst recording the attack with the intention of posting it on YouTube. Some news media responses blamed the incident on YouTube itself, however arguments were made that YouTube merely reflected violence. In this instance YouTube was used as a catalyst to the violence as the camera’s presence during the assault was purely for the footage to be uploaded for ‘popularity’. Online reactions included  YouTube videos uploaded by users commenting on the story, an example of citizen journalism. Other users posted amateur re-inactments of the video in an attempt for humorous exposure. Traditional news media such as newspapers and TV shows covered the story, most with a biased perspective using language such as “animalistic behaviour”.

Reflection

Convergent Media Practices has assisted me to discover so much more about being connected online. The idea of creating an online identity and posting/tweeting every week about our learning materials was a great way to keep on top of work and engage in the content. This is definitely the reason I love this subject as online communication is integrated into our lifestyle. What better way to pilot our progress in convergent media – the shift from analogue to digital. Not only do we learn about this but we actively are a part of it.  I feel confident and accomplished when I look back on my blog posts on all the topics we have covered.

I feel that my 3 best blog posts are:

WEEK SEVEN – https://lorenvettoretto.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/the-nerd-is-the-word/ 

WEEK  NINE – https://lorenvettoretto.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/citizen-journalism/

WEEK TEN – https://lorenvettoretto.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/online-identity/

I chose these 3 posts because I think these are my most significant. They were some of the most interesting and essential topics when learning/discussing the content with regard to convergent media. By relating my own experiences with the issues I especially found them invigorating to write about. I also feel that they are my most insightful and reflective posts, being the most recent ones, as I have developed my method of blogging since the first few. I have gained so much additional knowledge about media convergence, and can now thoroughly understand and contribute to discussions. All three of these posts are significant to us as the wireless generation by yielding the enforcement of how powerful media’s influence is and images portrayed online, especially through social networking. Most importantly, they explore the fact that we have the freedom to be a part of it. Technological convergence is consistently being challenged and I hope to stay a part of participatory culture and continue being a citizen journalist.

Online Identity

There are many advantages when you become a part of the online world.  In saying that, there are many disadvantages too. The internet provides us with this amazing ability to create an online identity – to share, discover and discuss almost anything. However; posting about whatever you want can surface a lot of controversy, of course. Just like when you speak to someone in person – no two people are the same, so not everybody will agree with what you have to say. This stems from our unique individualities between differing values, morals, belief systems, and cultural lifestyle.

More to the point – prime examples of controversy on the web usually carry a similar theme, which is anonymity. By having the option to be anonymous, this removes a user’s complete identity and a lot of the time this is used to verbally harm others or post unnecessary materials. This is an advantage to the anonymous, because there are no repercussions for them and no further responsibility for the act(s). There are many sites which give the opportunity to not show your identity when posting things. The disadvantage to the latter is obvious; receiving uncomfortable questions or content as well as bullying, abuse and threats. The frustrating thing is it happens too often for every single case to the dealt with. Two sites which bestow these sorts of actions or ‘cyber hate‘ include Tumblr and Formspring. Of course these sites are not run for this purpose, it is purely up to the user. In my opinion, by signing up for sites such as these you are also signing up for the harmful and upsetting comments or images which you may receive. There is no way to control what each and every person does on the internet, especially those who are hidden, i’ve personally come to accept that and move on. Though sometimes it’s not that easy, and can lead to extreme cases of oppression and exclusion. On the other hand, anonymity can sometimes work in everyone’s favour. For example, a victim of violence or rape who is too afraid to come forward but wants to share their story online and get the support they need without revealing themselves. I think that anonymous users think that because they have the right to hide their identity this also gives them the right to use it in a derogatory way. I feel we are fortunate to be able to have an online identity and that this idea of being hidden shouldn’t be muddled with.

Citizen Journalism

Media convergence has challenged the way journalism has been operating over the past few generations. Citizen journalism is when participants of information play an active role by gathering, analysing and distributing news. This is now integrated into our culture as society is changing the way we receive information by transferring from print media to digital media. Why? Because it’s convenient. Instant. Free. The best part about it all is – you can interact. We as consumers are becoming the producers through blogging, vlogging, and even social networking. Media platforms (i.e. YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, SoundCloud, Vimeo) allow us to contribute to collective intelligence in the comfort of our own homes, if desired.

I like to receive my news online because it’s usually from people which I know personally. There is no thorough editing process for the information presented to the public. One click and boom. It’s there, online for EVERYONE to see, at any time. I feel information online can be more reliable because you can discover more about an issue by commenting on the source, and there is usually multiple web pages where the story will overlap, OR alternatively you may know the source personally. For example there was a car crash near my house a few months ago. Because many of my Facebook friends live in my area, or pass through here on a daily basis, I knew about this crash within minutes after it had occurred, before I had even gotten out of bed that morning, and before any news station journalist had written or even knew about it. I read details about the car and passengers on various status updates from people who had driven past, or knew the people in the accident. This is where citizen journalism differs from traditional journalists – reading about incidents online from locals you somehow have a connection to – whether it’s someone you knew from school, a colleague, a friend, a friend of a friend… you get my drift. Traditional journalists are struggling to keep up, and I am interested to see what citizen journalism can do in the future.

ME & THE MEDIA

My name is Loren, I’m a 19 year old student studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media / Journalism degree at UOW.

I am very familiar with being connected online and have been since my early adolescence. Myspace, Bebo, Msn messenger, Piczo, Blogspot, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Google+ are just some social networking sites off the top of my head that have come and gone since I have been a part of the online world. Sure, all of these sites still exist but the boom in popularity have differed. This just goes to show how rapidly the media is actually converging.

I find myself using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram regularly (daily) because they are the easiest to access when on the go (via iPhone apps). I feel that these media platforms are also the most popular within my age group which creates an instant convenience when I feel the need to share thoughts, photos, videos and much more.

I love social networking and being a part of a ‘wireless’ generation. I feel it is the most powerful way in today’s society to communicate because it is easily accessible, instant, and not to mention global. Furthermore I think that people really underestimate the power in online media – one click of a button and it’s there for anyone to see. This is a major advantage to the media industry as they are able to get more information out there in a smaller amount of time with comparison to, for example, print media.

I am really looking forward to learning more about technological convergence. Hello and welcome BCM students.