My Changed View of Social Media

Before starting my social media class, I rarely used social media. I viewed it pretty negatively, and did not see any real personal value in using it. I thought of it only as something you use to show off your meal. After taking this class, I have gained a much better understanding and appreciation of social media, especially Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Instead of just seeing them as ways to connect with people and talk about trivial things, I now see them as tools I can use. I can use them to create a personal brand for myself, putting myself out there for future employers to see. I can also use social media to connect with people who are the about to go into the same field as I am, and I can see what they are doing and learn from them.

Through taking this course, I also gained a much better understanding of how to use each type of social media effectively. Instagram is more focused on visuals, and grabbing attention, whereas Twitter focuses more on being active on your account. I pretty much knew how Facebook and LinkedIn worked, but through fully making a LinkedIn account, I really learned everything that it has to offer, and everything that future employers might look for when considering who to hire, or even for internships.

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I really liked the format of this course, and I think that taking it as a summer class was a good idea. I could not imagine taking this as a normal course during the fall, with 75-minute classes. I think that given the subject matter, it makes perfect sense for this to be an online class, since social media is an online platform. It also made it feel more authentic, since most people do not go to a classroom to make twitter posts. By doing it at home, it felt more like I was just using social media to use it, not because it was for a class, and that naturally gave me more freedom regarding the subject matter of my tweets and blogs.

(Blogging at home is much better than in a classroom!)

This course was definitely effective for me. I went from not even considering using social media, to using it a bit, to actually wanting to use it in my free time. If that is not considered a success for a social media course, then I do not know what is. I also learned how important social media is in today’s society and just how powerful it is, and how much of an impact it can have on someone’s life.

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Public Shaming on Social Media

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Public shaming and public humiliation have been around for a long time. It was used as a way to deter crime and actions seen as bad for the community. With the invention of social media, now anyone, anywhere can publicly ridicule or harass someone. Some people try to reason that cyber-bullying is an easily solvable problem, “Just turn off your computer.” But after being shamed online, that stigma sticks with you in real life, like you are wearing a scarlet letter.

Something as simple as a stupid joke that pushes the limits a bit too far, like the jokes in Justine Sacco’s tweets, can ruin your career. I think that since social media is a relatively new thing, people do not associate their professional identities with their social media identities. This leads to people saying things they would never say at their company, and when others realize that it does not reflect the company, these tweeters get hell for it. This is exactly what happened to Justine Sacco.

People can get harassed to the point of being scared for their own well-being, like with Referee John Higgins. One mistake, one bad call, and you never know what someone might do. By having so many people hate on the same person, for the same reason, your personal safety becomes at risk.

With how easy it is to share information and ideas on social media, things that happened a long time ago can be brought up at a moment’s notice. If social media were not a thing, I am sure that Monica Lewinsky would have just faded into obscurity, which she probably wanted for the longest time. After realizing that will not happen for her, she decided to take a stand against all the hate and shaming still targeted at her, and I think that was a smart move. If people are not going to back off online, then tell the story from your perspective.

Luckily, there are people who try to deter this cyber-bulling, like the Trollbusters. They not only seek out trolls, but they also provide support for those who have been cyber-bullied or harassed online.

I think that the only way social media can be made a more compassionate place is for the companies in charge of these social media sites to crack down and delete hateful comments. Unfortunately, this goes against free speech, so it is not a good solution. Also unfortunately, I see it as the only way harassment on social media will stop. Maybe a class on internet etiquette and the effects your tweets can have on other people could be helpful, if taught in middle school or high school, but it would not solve the problem completely.

People like feeling they are in the right. People enjoy sympathizing with others. That’s why it is so easy for a group of people to mercilessly berate someone online, especially someone like a referee. They think the call that the referee made was terrible, and when they see thousands of others that think the same thing, it is very easy to get swept up in a mob mentality. This is especially true online, where you do not see the consequences of your actions. It also makes social media feel rewarding for those who are mean, since they get more attention, followers, likes, and sympathizers who feel the same way.

One of my favorite Youtube channels, h3h3productions, makes videos calling out fake pranksters and explaining what is really happening online, with their own comedy entwined in their videos . The couple that make the videos, Ethan and Hila, said they had a real wake-up call when they ran into someone they just made a video about at DisneyWorld. They said they realized that they felt fine with making the video, but actually seeing the person in real life made them change the way they approach their videos now. They now realize that what they say online can actually effect the personal lives of people they are talking about (the whole video is insightful, but at 5:00 they talk about this specifically). I love them even more now for realizing their mistake, owning up to it, and for changing the way they do things, unlike other Youtubers, who have no shame in ruining peoples’ lives with slander and hate.

The Importance of Situational Awareness

In chapter 10 of Hermida’s, “Tell Everyone,” he talks about how a German WW1 pilot was so successful, since he was the first person to realize the importance of situational awareness when it comes to dogfights. Hermida applied this same thinking to the situational awareness we need to have when it comes to social media. We need to constantly find our bearings, know what is important and what is not, and act accordingly. I think this is a great way of thinking about it, and I can relate Hermida’s point to the current day as well.

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I am an avid gamer. I always have been, and probably always will. One of my favorite games right now is Overwatch. It is a hyper-competitive, 6v6 objective-based game. Players can choose from 24 (soon to be 25) radically different characters, all with different abilities, play-styles, and uses. Being able to aim well and use your abilities effectively allows your competitive skill ranking to be pretty good (2000-3000 SR). But if you have good situational awareness, you skill ranking can go up 1000+. This is a game where situational awareness is ridiculously important. Just like Hermida says about the dogfights of WW1, in Overwatch you need to make split-second decisions and always know where everyone is. Is someone flanking us? Where are all my teammates? Do they have their abilities? Are they injured? Where are the enemies? Do they have their abilities? Are any enemies by themselves, easy to kill? Whose footsteps do I hear? You have to keep all of these things in mind all the time when playing, and this skill is what separates a good player from a great player.

Situational awareness is also important in the world we live in today. When you are bombarded with a constant feed of information, you need to find out what is important or what pertains to you just by a quick glance. Long gone are the days of reading all the way through a newspaper. People want their information that they think is important, fast, and that’s it. We have developed such a keen sense of situational (informational) awareness because of the technology boom, and it is especially noticeable on social media.

How Social Media Prevents Foreign Films

In chapter 7 of Hermida’s book, “Tell Everyone,” he talks about how social media buzz before a movie’s release can make or break a movie’s success. I agree with him completely that social media and hype before a movie are huge factors in a movie’s success, and that minimal talk about a movie before it releases can really hurt it.

I see this personally all the time. As a huge fan of anime and foreign films, it is very hard to see the films I want to at the movie theater. Since they are not talked about nearly as much as blockbuster films, they are rarely even shown in theaters near me. There are about four movies a year that seep through the cracks and make it into the theater I go to, but they only have one showing, usually at an inconvenient time, in a small theater, and tickets are more expensive. All of this is caused by the theater not thinking many people will see it. It is a potential risk to show this movie, as it may not generate as much money as putting another movie in that theater. But if more people talked about it on social media, the theater would realize just how many people would pay to see it theaters, and more of these types of movies would be released, with more showings.

IMG_2292I can even point to an example of this today. Later tonight, my movie theater is showing the first three episodes of a new anime as a mini-marathon. Unfortunately, there is only one showing, and I would have never found out about it if I did not regularly check my local theaters’ showtimes for these types of movies. But how can the theater think that only a few people will go, when they do not advertise the movie/marathon at all? You would never even know this existed unless you went to the specific day and looked at all the movies being played. I think this part falls on the theater and Funimation, the company releasing the film in America. They did not publicize the marathon at all, they did not even air one trailer on TV, or a single ad online about it. Of course only a few people will go, because only a very small few will find out about it! (I just checked earlier today, and they added a second showing and put the film at the top of the movie list on the mobile app, which is awesome! But they should have done that a week ago. . .)

Theaters, and the companies releasing the films, need to advertise these movies, then I know more people will go, which will be better for everyone. Your Name, an anime movie by Makoto Shinkai, was only available at one theater where I live, and there were minimal showings. This movie was the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time in Japan, and the second-highest grossing animated movie of all time in Japan. Had they done anything to publicize it, whether it be trailers, ads, or social media posts, so many more people would have gone. So social media definitely plays a huge role in the success of a movie, which sucks for me, because the movies I love do not generate any talk, leading to poorer and fewer releases.