“The Internet Doesn’t Create Bullies”

Bullying has always been a problem amongst young people, especially within the school environment. But since the invention of the smart phone, with communication now being accessed 24/7, bullying has become much more than a schoolyard issue.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) cyber bullying began emerging in the early 2000s, around the same time as social networking websites, and with the growth of mobile devices, instances of cyber bullying have also grown (Nicol, 2012).

In Sarah Nicols article ‘Cyber Bullying and Trolling’ published in Youth Studies Australia in 2012, she explains what cyber bullying is and how it uses technology, especially new mobile technologies. The article states that cyber bullying is similar to face to face bullying, only behind a screen. It suggests that online bullies are also bullies offline, and online victims, victims offline as well. “The internet doesn’t create bullies”, it states.

So is the internet at fault at all for cyber bullying? Websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have procedures in place to protect its users, like reporting options and the like, but is that enough and do people actually use them? In Nicols’ article, she suggests that victims of cyber bullying are often hesitant to report their bullies because they think it will result in them not being able to use social networking for the purposes it was created, socialising with genuine friends. This is where the idea of social media just being a platform comes in. If cyber bullying occurs over a text message, who should have some responsibility? Is it Telstra’s fault? Apple’s fault?

Nicols’ article also suggests that victims of cyber bullying tend to let it go on for longer than it should, by not reporting or telling anyone about it.

“Bullies can attack anyone online; however, some people will yell back at them, some will ignore them and some will report them.  Victims however, engage in ongoing communication with the bully, allowing themselves to play the role of victim”

The article states that the way to stop cyber bullying occurring is to empower the victim. Victims don’t have to play the role of a victim, they can report, they can ignore, they can block.

In my opinion, cyber-bullying is just another platform for bullying. Whilst I do agree that cyber bullying is bad, just like any bullying, I think that there is too much emphasis placed on the role of the ‘platform’ (Facebook, Twitter) and not enough placed on the bullies and victims themselves. As I stated above, bullies aren’t created online. If they’re a bully online, there is a high chance they are are bully offline. Bullies need to be dealt with offline and victims need to be empowered online so they know that they can just as easily do something about it, while still enjoying the good things social media and the online world has to offer.

Nicol, Sarah. Cyber-bullying and trolling [online]. Youth Studies Australia, Vol. 31, No. 4, Dec 2012: 3-4. Availability:<http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=961674521346309;res=IELHSS> ISSN: 1038-2569. [cited 12 May 14].

Does Race Matter?

As mentioned in last week’s post for BCM310, stories are now being told more and more by the group of people the story is about. We are now getting first hand accounts of what it is like to be a social minority, and these minorities are finally being represented by themselves. It is the same for racial minorities in the western world.

As the world becomes more and more culturally mixed, it is becoming more prevalent to hear stories about race minorities told by people of that minority. What I mean by this, is that instead of a race minority being just a token character in a TV show, there for the laughs, there are now shows and stories being told about racially diverse main characters.

In the USA, after Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in 2013, and become the first American of Indian descent to do so. But, what came was a wave of racist comments and remarks about Davuluri on Twitter from many upset Americans that a white woman didn’t win. Daniels claims that this kind of racist fuelled Twitter attack was also prevalent after Barack Obama became the first African-American president. 

However, this differs a lot to the reception of Mindy Kaling’s sitcom ‘The Mindy Project’. An article written by Eliana Dokterman for Time about the season final of season 2, does not mention once the race or ethnicity of Kaling, even though the fact Kaling is Indian is something that is discussed quite a lot in the show itself.

So, does race matter when it comes to people in the media? Some would argue yes, some would argue no. It all comes down to relevance. I would argue that race should be more of a factor in in Kaling’s case rather than Davuluri’s, even though the media attention surrounding both women is the complete opposite. 

No matter what the issue is surrounding race and these women, it is definitely refreshing to see a bit of racial diversity in the primetime spotlight.

‘Slacktivism’ is Still Activism

We’ve all done it. Liked that page on Facebook, signed that petition online. We’re changing the world one click at a time! But are we really even doing anything?

A lot of people are very critical of younger generations and their political involvement, mostly because a lot of it is done online and not seen by every member of the population.
Back in the day, if you wanted to make a political statement or spread a message, you wrote in to the paper or held a placard on a street corner. You organised marches down busy streets, or you burned bras on the side of a highway. It got your message out, and if you were lucky, it would be picked up by mainstream media.
But that’s not how things work these days. Today, you post a political status on Facebook, get feedback instantly and, if it’s good, it’ll get shared and your message will spread. It’s so much quicker and easier to be an activist online. But is that necessarily ‘slacktivism*’? Does that mean that people that do that are lazy? Maybe they’re smarter for doing something an easier way.

The internet and social media have allowed the growth of ‘clicktivism**’ over recent years. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s simply just a different way of getting message out there. A different way of activism.
I believe that this is why older generations are so critical of younger generations’ political involvement. It’s just done online, in a different way than it would have been done 50 years ago. Just because people can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

* actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement
** the use of social media and the Internet to advance social causes

Real ‘Girls’

The history of history is a very interesting topic to discuss. History, is historically told by rich, old, white men. This means, that in the past what people learned about the world was told from the perspective of somebody who controlled the world. But, during the late 20th century, history began to be told by social minorities such as races different to caucasian, members of the LGBT community, and by women. Not only did history start to be told from a different perspective, but the voices of these social minorities was being heard for the first time, and stories were able to be told. The world changed.

Today, these social minorities’ voices are being heard more than ever, and people are listening. 

Women have fought for a long time to be sen as equals within society and by governments. While women are mostly equal under the law, there is still a long way to go for women to be viewed equally by many people in society, and this is why the feminist movement is still a relevant now as it was 50 years ago.

One notable feminist is Lena Dunham, the creator of the HBO series ‘Girls’. Her show follows the lives of young women trying to get by in New York City. It gives a fresh view on women that differs to traditional representation of women in the media. One example which ‘Girls’ has been compared to is Sex and the City.

Laura Sullivan (2012) makes the comparison, but also states the difference between the two shows.

“The thing that strikes me about it (Girls) compared to “Sex and the City” is that, you know, even with Carrie Bradshaw, she was kind of wacky in some ways, but she was thin and beautiful, and she dated these incredible men, and she had this fabulous life, and she had all this style and the shoes and the clothes, and you wanted to be her. But your characters are so raw, and they are so real.”

It’s refreshing to know that women are being represented in the media now, by women who are just showing themselves as raw and real. The characters in ‘Girls’ are real and that’s why so many women can relate. They’re no longer watching the life of someone so foreign to them like in ‘Sex and the City’, they’re watching a representation which can be seen as “raw” and “real”.

Sullivan, L 2012, ‘Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls”: Still Sex, Still The City, Different Show’, Weekend All Things Considered, 8 April, viewed 28 April 2014, <http://ezproxy.uow.edu.au/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/991922209?accountid=15112>

Jesus and Hitler: A Love Story

With the age of information upon us, enjoying a show or movie has become a lot more than just consuming when we’re told to. Viewers movies and TV shows are now involved more than they ever were before! Viewers don’t want to just be consumers any more, that’s not good enough. They want to be a part of the magic, and add on to and evolve it as much as they can!

This is where fan-fiction comes from. Fan-fiction is exactly that; fiction written by fans. It isn’t enough anymore for a person to simply believe what they are told by an author or a creator and that be the end of the story. For many fans, this is where the story begins!

Fan-fiction is the extension of a story or the telling of a completely new story using characters and worlds of an already existing book, movie, TV show. Basically anything you can be a fan of, there’s fan-fiction for.

But where is the line between admiring somebody else’s work and ripping them off?

One argument for fan-fiction is that fact that people don’t make money off it. They simply do it for the pleasure of it, because they enjoy the work and want to be a part of that.

According to Helen Razer (2004), fan-fic accelerated in the mid-90s after the advent of no-cost publishing. This has since taken off with websites like Tumblr come to mind as a place where fan-fic flourishes. There is even a whole website now dedicated to fan-fiction and the people who write it!

Razer states that fan-fiction pre-dates the internet by at least 20 years, with this type of fan interaction being notable in the late 60s around the sci-fi show Star Trek. “The literary form Kirk-Spock depicted the captain and his ensign in romantic or erotic situations”.

This form of fan-fiction is known as ‘slash’ and it is when two male characters are written by fans to be in romantic relationships. I must admit, I do have a small guilty pleasure for a little bit of slash. Razer is vert adamant in saying that slash “is not tatty porn” and has become extremely popular with heterosexual women, with which a majority of Slash is written by. As with most fan-fiction, if you can imagine it, it’s most likely been written. I even found some slash written about Jesus and Hitler!

With most fan-fiction being written and/or created by fans who are simply trying to engage with the story they love so much, and not even making money off of it, I can’t understand why authors and creators wouldn’t love the attention? After all, it is free advertising all from their fan’s imaginations!

Razer, H 2004, ‘Fanfic: Is it Right to Write?’, The Age, 5 January

A Changing Industry

The world is changing, people are changing, society is changing. Things have always evolved, and things will always evolve. In more recent times, a lot of things that change have the internet to thank for that.

One industry that can thank the internet for it’s change is the journalism industry.

The news used to be about people in a room somewhere, finding things out, filtering it, and telling us what they think. That was the news. But it is no longer the news.
Consumers are now more active with their viewing than ever before. Consumers are no longer passive and are more involved in the news than ever before.
With the aid of the internet, websites like Reddit, Twitter and Buzzfeed are becoming sources for the public to hear the news, as well as contribute to it.
Even the term ‘journalist’ has changed, with websites like the Huffington Post gathering a whole bunch of information on a topic for users to access (x).
News organisations are now using websites like Twitter as sources, because that is where the news is breaking first. This is where the concept of a citizen journalist comes in. A citizen journalist is simply a member of the public who contributes to the discussion surrounding a topic that people are reading about. They’re not getting paid, they are simply spreading information with other people and sharing their opinion on it. Yes, some citizen journalists opinions can be biased and not correct, but that’s where the aggregation of websites like Twitter and Reddit come into it. Instead of one journalist reporting on something with a number of sources, people can now read about something in the news from many citizen journalists and many more sources and opinions.

I believe this is a healthy direction for the news to move toward. The more people sharing opinions, and the more discussion surrounding topics can only be a good thing for a society in general, and more importantly a more democratic and free world.

Get Up & Share!

The use of social media to spread information has always been apparent, but to what extent does social media have an impact over activism and the way people think about things that really matter?

Social media is great, in the fact that anyone can create and access using social media platforms. Some story that gets censored by governments or mainstream news channels can be published and shared online using social media because of the self publishing aspect of it. You can write whatever you want to write, and if it’s worthy enough of being shared it will be shared. This is why when it comes to activism, activists are more and more commonly using social media to spread their messages. Because of it’s grassroots ability appeal.

One example of social media being used by activists to spread a message and gain support is community advocacy organisation, GetUp Australia. GetUp is famous for it’s political advertisements which have the ability to go viral, thanks to the use of social media, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The most famous example of this would be the ‘It’s Time’ YouTube video with over 8.5 million views which promotes the movement toward marriage equality in Australia. When this video was released in 2011, it spread quickly on Facebook and Twitter, and received so many views online, all thanks to people sitting at home on their computer or at a bus stop on their smart phone. And the whole GetUp organisation would not be as successful now as it is if it wasn’t for social media. Even more recently, during the 2013 federal Australian election, this advertisement, which was originally made for television advertising. But this ad was refused by television networks to be shown for whatever reason, and this is where the use of social media came in. GetUp emailed members asking them to share with as many people as they could to get the message out, because the television networks wouldn’t. It now has over 700 thousand views on YouTube.

GetUp is just a grassroots organisation with the aim of spreading information about a number of different issues in Australia. It utilises social media and is a perfect example of an organisation utilising this, because without social media, GetUp would not be near as popular as it is.