Sadly, however, the first live-tweeting presidency bears more resemblance to the broadcast-era version of democracy than the kind of democracy the internet was supposed to enable. The very limitations I hoped we’d transcend in our shift to internet democracy are instead finding new life in the President’s tweets.

How Trump’s Twitter presidency hijacked hopes for e-democracy | JSTOR Daily

Alexandra Samuel argues that instead of fulfilling cyberutopian visions for a digital democracy, Donald Trump’s use of twitter rather allows him to become a mass broadcaster without media accountability or criticism. 

Trump uses Twitter as an incredibly loud microphone without ever listening. He seems to get his (tweet) ideas from watching FOX News. Which is on one level understandable, I often get my tweet ideas from watching Maddow or listening to NPR, but I’m a job-seeking cultural studies graduate, and he is the most powerful man in the world. 

At the end, Samuel reminds us, there is a way “to vote for participatory media, political diversity, and online conversation rather than an unchecked stream of 140-character broadcasts. It’s called the Unfollow button.”  

The case against Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” is a triumph of style over substance, of clamorous white grievance over knowable facts.

This is what Andrew Breitbart, and his progeny, ultimately understood. What Shirley Sherrod did or did not do really didn’t matter. White racial grievance enjoys automatic credibility, and even when disproven, it is never disqualifying of its bearers.

More than 2,000 people are missing. Towns are practically wiped off the map. People’s homes have been torched.

That isn’t a scene from a horror movie, it’s the aftermath of a brutal terrorist attack in Nigeria. And few people are talking about it. (via micdotcom)

[…] 

I haven’t really said anything about the mass killings by Boko Haram because I literally have no words. Beyond horrifying. I have words to describe what is happening in Paris, in Belgium, in Germany, in the US. I have words to describe why the world isn’t paying enough attention: Northern Nigeria is far away for Western media, conceptually even further away than geographically. Ebola only became a problem when a handful of Western citizens fell ill, meanwhile hundreds if not thousands are ill and dying in Western Africa. But that is not within our white Western bubble, beyond the circle of our collective attention, maybe even beyond our collective imagination. Most importantly, it is beyond the very specific discourse we in the West – media, pundits, politicians, and the public – want to have about terrorism since 9/11: Terrorism is something that is committed by Muslim extremist brown men and happens to white Christian citizens. The Boko Haram atrocities don’t fit that narratie, so the story isn’t being told.

In this world of instant communication, I don’t think it will ever be possible to completely eradicate a lie once it’s loose in the atmosphere

Bill Kovach, quoted in a Chicago Tribune article from 1999 (!) debunking the myth that Catharine MacKinnon actually said/wrote “all heterosexual sex is rape,” a anti-feminist claim that predates the Internet. (Found the article thanks to feministing.)

Reading the article and the criticism of 24-hour journalism on the hunt for the next sensation at the cost of well-researched content, I am torn in my reaction.

At first, I was disappointed that things haven’t improved since then. Tribune writer Cindy Richards was optimistic: “Viewers are turning off the hype and tuning into National Public Radio.” Kovach adds a bit of interesting historical context I wasn’t entirely aware of. In the 1920s, the introduction of the radio brought along a sensationalist frenzy in a similar way to the hype brought along by 24h cable news or the Internet.

Then again, comparing the criticisms in the article to today, things haven’t deteriorated that far in the last 15 years. People have created their own finely-tuned information bubbles, and digital gossip rags like TMZ are apparently out new whistle-blowers. But culture still exists, and the Internet is also home to in-depth reporting and platform for voices that would otherwise remain unheard. The digital tools that make spreading lies so easy also make it easy to debunk those lies. Both in 1999 and in 2014. That, on this grey and cold November Friday, gives me hope.

Girl Talk goes vaguely feminist. Of course people compared that to Nazi indoctrination, because that’s totally reasonable. Discussion below.

thespectacularspider-girl:

mulattoalbinomosquitolibido:

miseryofmissouri:

imminentdeathsyndrome:

korrawarriorprincess:

the-bi-furious-whovian:

imminentdeathsyndrome:

Indoctrination begins early for the feminist agenda. Get ‘em while they still can’t formulate their own opinions about the world and fill them with the lies that will support your ideology. Didn’t the fucking Nazis do that?

AS A JEWISH FEMINIST I AM HEREBY INFORMING YOU THAT YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO FUCK OFF

STOP FUCKING COMPARING SHIT TO NAZIS

FUCKING

STOP

THE NAZI’S “IDEOLOGY” WAS KILL EVERYONE WE DON’T LIKE 

THE FUCKING HASHTAG FOR THIS IS GIRLS ARE AMAZING

THERE’S A FUCKING DIFFERENCE, YOU BOWL OF LUKEWARM SOUP

You do understand that the Nazis were enforcing discrimination tactics against certain groups of people inside of Germany well before the war or the holocaust, right? Fucking read a book. Not every comparison to the Nazis equals a comparison to the holocaust.

The comment was pointing out that indoctrinating youth is something the Nazis did and I don’t give a fuck how positive you think feminism is. There is zero justification for feeding children the lies of ideologies that box them up into neat little packages of prejudice and biases before they can even critically think or formulate opinions based on real world experience. There are plenty of ways to boost self-esteem and confidence in young girls without using feminism. 

The propaganda tactics alone of the Nazi party has a fucking massive history to it, and if you think that Hitler showed up and the Nazis literally just sprung out of nowhere and started murdering Jews, finish 8th grade history and then we’ll talk. As a Jewish egalitarian, I cordially invite you to fucking try learning something about the lead-up to the shoah and recognizing basic analogies instead of not only being dismissive but contributing to the stereotype about Jews pulling out the ‘offended’ card about the holocaust whenever it’s convenient to an argument. This is not how you dismantle gender roles and this is not how you help young girls understand gender and become empowered properly. Manipulating and indoctrinating people through the media “for a just cause” is still fucked up, and at large, feminism has proven fallible and problematic enough to warrant concern.

And for what it’s worth, I have in fact seen a nice slew of casual antisemitism in the feminist community on tumblr.

How is this indoctrination though? I agree that indoctrinating kids is bad, but there is nothing wrong with telling girls that they are awesome.

The problem is tying the ideology of ‘feminism’ to the plan.  Feminism is an ideology.  And like any ideology it has tennants, beliefs, theories and what it believes to be truths.

This is the problem.  The problem is that by injecting feminism into this you are injecting an ideology into a child’s mind before they are able to form their own opinions.  It is indoctrination, pure and simple.

Now, you may argue that feminism is a GOOD ideology and SHOULD be put into kids heads.  Well, if you do you’re a horrible person.  Why?  Because you are still taking away a child’s freedom to choose.  You are forcing an ideology down their throats, removing their autonomy and making their choices for them.

If you believe feminism to be good and only good (I don’t but if you’re really curious as to why you can find more info about it on my blog) then the kid should be able to make their own decision when they are old enough to.  And if it is so good then you shouldn’t be worried that the kid may not choose it.

There are other ways to promote wellness in children and it doesn’t have to tie into an ideology.

Basically nothing in our societies is free of ideology. Certainly nothing in our media landscapes.

There are enough messages in media that teach girls of all ages that they are not amazing, that they need to be prety and skinny to be worthy. Countering that with a message of positivity is valuable – and tying that message to a pro-girl, pro-woman movement, which feminism is at its most basic level, and which the publisher seems to commit to, is not ridiculous or indoctrination. I’d argue it is just being honest to the children. If it is positivity born out of a feminist understanding – why not call it that?

All this new direction does, as far as I can tell, is add to the girly (beauty) tips and celebrity news age-appropriate articles about positive role models, amazing girls, and world events. Which part are the ideology-driven lies?All of this is less dangerous than the body negativity or materialist ideology that other publications spread, that also reach young girls – because even young girls/children in general do not live on a vacuum and are not stupid. They really are amazing.

Also, this is a privately run magazine AFAIK advertising to private individuals, not mandatory propaganda. This isn’t the only publication the children and their parents are aware of, or that they consume. Girls and their parents can still freely choose. Other factors – area she lives in, our economic system, school, group pressure, parents – affect a girl’s freedom to choose more than a single magazine. To call this indoctrination that is dangerous to children is ludicrous, to compare it to Nazi propaganda is disgusting. Yes, there was propaganda before the mass killing started, but from the start Nazi propaganda was a propaganda of aggressive, oppressive supremacy, nationalism, and militarism that was leading up to World War II and the holocaust. Not a message of “hey little ones, you are awesome, you can do a lot of great things.. We think women are awesome and can do a lot of great things. That’s why we’re feminist.” This type of very basic feminism is hardly radical, discriminatory, or misanthropic – three things early fascist indoctrination is. 

You/a parent might dislike this basic form of feminism – then you are free to teach your child otherwise, to consume other media.

The Value of Snapchat (and Other Image-based Communication)

danah boyd published an interesting post on the value of Snapchat:

In a digital world where everyone’s flicking through headshots, images, and text without processing any of it, Snapchat asks you to stand still and pay attention to the gift that someone in your network just gave you. As a result, I watch teens choose not to open a Snap the moment they get it because they want to wait for the moment when they can appreciate whatever is behind that closed door. And when they do, I watch them tune out everything else and just concentrate on what’s in front of them. Rather than serving as yet-another distraction, Snapchat invites focus.

Snapchat is one of those elements of the Internet that has the possibility of fundamentally changing the way we communicate. I’m personally not a user of Snapchat nor a big selfie guy. As someone who feels better communicating through text than through pictures, I’m not entirely sure I’m comfortable with that, but it is fascinating..

Anyway, a majority of our communication, especially on social media, is still text based. Snapchat – or the gif answers so loved on tumblr, other image-based communication tools – expand the possibilities of communication again.

Image-based communication might also create a more inclusive form of communication, as it gives people who can’t read and write well more options to express themselves in a creative, unique manner. It’s certainly interesting how Snapchat, Instagram, and (other) selfies reintroduce a corporeality, for better and worse, into Internet-based communication, an area that before detached human communication from the human body.

I don’t find it surprising that it’s kids, teenagers, who drive the rise of Snapchat. Not only do younger people historically always adapt earlier to media trends, kids today (the “digital natives”) grew up in a digital multi-media world, whereas people my age and older were mostly socialized with text and broadcast media.


Stuart Hall Has Died

Stuart Hall, the  great Jamaican sociologist and cultural theorist, has passed away aged 82, after long illness. 

Hall’s writing has greatly influenced my own not only academic thought and development. His work was one of the reasons why I decided to go into a more Cultural Studies focused M.A. program rather than an even more literature based one. He was so central to me, I’m still confused why I had to hear of his passing through a friend on Facebook, not via the rush of breaking news updates that usually accompanies an important public person’s death (for better or worse.)

The world has lost a great thinker today. I hope he rests in peace, my heart goes out to his family.

Stuart Hall Has Died