All posts by helterskelliter

But What Does it All Really Meme????

Well, well, well…

If I’m not back at it again discussing memes. Have I ever left the conversation???

Making Meme-ing Okay I’ll stop

So, you may have guessed it already, but this week’s class topic was memes. We spent most of class discussing what memes are, what memes can be, what memes we interact with (if we do interact with them at all), and how memes can be used online. I spent most of class trying not to open my big mouth on the subject lol For me, I found it interesting to hear how people interacted with memes and how they used them in their daily life. As expected few people created their own memes and even fewer people “memed” their own lives–i.e. created memes from their own source material. In my own research I’ve done on the topic, this seems to be the case for most people. We share and perpetuate memes in online spaces but only a few people contribute to the “remixing” of memes that allows for their replication and heavily contributes to what makes memes interesting to share.

Briefly, we did discuss replication and propagation of memes in online spaces a la Dawkins (1976). In Dawkins The Selfish Gene, the meme is defined as a “unit of cultural transmission” and can really include all manner of things a contemporary memer would not attribute to memes now. Dawkins proposed that memes are these things that get stuck in our brains and are transferred from one human to the next via mimicry. He equates this process to biological processes of replication and reproduction, most notably comparing meme replication to gene replication. For me and many other mimetic researchers, this definition is vague and problematic in many ways. Most notably, the comparison between memes and biological processes seems erroneous at best. Also, the definition of meme is never quite nailed down and so leaves open the possibility that anything could be a meme. Were the Internet not to be a thing that exists, these issues may not be so big. But, with the onset of the Internet, a very particular body of memes has risen up and complicates/challenges Dawkins original conceptions making parts of his seminal work kind of obsolete…

Anyway, all this is to say that researchers as well as people like myself and my classmates do have some rather interesting thoughts on memes and the purposes they serve–in culture, in society, in politics, for communication, for expression of self, etc. I myself have waxed poetic about memes on many occasions–such as this one, this onethis one, this one, and this one. Additionally, you can find me raving about memes on the regular on my thesis blog. So, I don’t want to waste my breath too much repeating myself on the subject. I love the content and the discourse but I really can exhaust myself.

I will say that I think memes are a valuable kind of sociocultural currency and that I believe they contain within them a greater depth of meaning than many established entities would like us to believe. To me, memes contain multitudes. More, memes contain us. They are representative of our beliefs and values but also our doubts and our experiences of disillusionment with life. More than mere social commentary, I view memes as a kind of rejection of traditional logic and established traditions. They are a means through which we can all play the part of Anonymous and express how we truly may feel when we think about power systems and our places within these systems. The threshold for entering into this kind of dialogue is that you have a computer and you have a lot of repressed feelings about the downward spiral known as your life in this day and age. Low threshold. Most twenty-somethings clear it. Easy.

In this way, memes are the voice of a generation. They are the voice of the repressed and the oppressed and the distressed. Memes are how we resist the system that would have us sit down, shut up, and eat what we’re told to swallow. They’re how we resist and we subvert the traditional logic and value systems that the current powers that be demand we accept because. Because that logic and those systems keep them in power. Keep them unchallenged.

I think a lot of news outlets, publications, and other authorities cast memes and other emergent forms of digital content creation like gifs and shitposting as inherently meaningless and degenerate because, yes, they benefit from doing so and from repressing the voice of a disillusioned and unsatisfied generation but also because they simply don’t get it. They don’t get memes. They don’t get shitposting. They don’t get that that’s the point–that they don’t get it. Like the OG Degenerate Art, Degenerate Art 2.0 galvanizes and politicizes nonsense. It is purposefully absurd. It is not meant to be easily classified and shoved aside like so many  people have been in their own lives. More, the absurdity expressed within emergent forms of digital content creation acts like a mirror, reflecting the absolute absurdity that is real life right now. I mean, have you seen some of the news headlines lately??? A US government shutdown for how many days??? It’s absurd. Unreal. And, memes are responding to that nonsense. They are a reflection of it.

If memes and other new forms of digital content creation seem absurd, it’s because the world is absurd. We are absurd. Life is one absurdity after another. We can either laugh about it or cry. Why not both????

Ultimately, for me, memes and shitposting embody Hugo Ball’s (1916) “this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect” sentiment. Memes are the fuck you and the horse you rode in on of the twenty-first century. They are how we speak our truths to power. How we bring power back down to earth. Remind power that respect is something that can only be earned through respectable actions. Remind power that it can easily be made a fool of.

Maybe I’m thinking too deeply on the subject. Maybe onto to Big Brother.

Either way, let me know what you think~

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My Make

This week, we had to meme a topic from our discussions about online issues. Very difficult, I know ^.^ Anyway, I chose to meme government surveillance in the US. I think I’m pretty funny but you guys be the judge~

Bonus Posts

This week, because of Spring Break, I’ve got two extra posts to share.

My first post is all about me doing the complete opposite of what I discussed in this post and assigning specific, logical meaning to memes in order to create a narrative out of five memes. It pained me greatly. Please check it out!

My second post is another contribution to the class Field Guide. In this post, I explore and reflect upon an article that discusses what makes a meme more fit than another meme. I get to discuss “meme death”. Quite a fun topic. Definitely recommend checking out~

Daily Digital Alchemies

In my first DDA, I shared a map of the dark fantasy world created by one of my fave authors, Leigh Bardugo. Her writing inspires me to write unapologetically and she inspires me to be apologetically myself.

In my second DDA, I share some of my fave digital artists. All of these artists are a part of my thesis and their work has greatly informed my own. I admire each of these artists and highly, highly recommend checking out their work. (I’m so excited to get to hear Alex Saum talk about her work in class soon!)

~Till next time~

The Lifespan of Memes~

This too shall pass~

shallnot pass

Or will it????

Hey~

So, in the course of working on my thesis, I’ve read a lot of articles and research studies about memes. Some articles focus on the spread and replication of memes through a system while others focus on the sociocultural impact of the meme and its semantic and communicative applications. Very boring stuff. Not the topic–the writing on the topic. It’s almost like mimetic researchers have something to prove…

Anyway, rather than bore you with some of those useful but admittedly snooze-worthy sources, I thought I’d share one of the more “fun” articles I came across in my research on memes. This article by Lauren Michele Jackson, published in The Atlantic, explores why some memes are more fit than others and tend to have a longer shelf-life (i.e. remain in the public consciousness longer). More, this article looks at “meme-death” and what elements a successful meme needs to have in order to propagate in or current social system.

Though not an academic article per se, Jackson does draw upon mimetic research to define the internet meme as well as to critique the antiquated definition (calling Dawkins (1976) concept “deliberately capacious”–which is fair). To Jackson, though, it seems more apt to define the current Internet meme as a kind of joke. Jackson states, “memes as they’re popularly discussed nowadays often index something much more specific—a phrase or set of text, often coupled with an image, that follows a certain format within which user adjustments can be made before being redistributed to amuse others. Also known as: a joke”. While memes often inspire humor and laughter, that is not the main reason for why Jackson compares the meme to a joke. It is the shared quality of jokes and memes to “uniquely and deliberately make depth inconsequential to their appreciation” that Jackson cites as the main reason for why the two mediums are comparable. Essentially, counter to every proud mimetic theorist out there, Jackson believes that the most defining quality of the meme is that its meaning is shallow. Or, at the very least, it does not matter if a meme means anything deep or profound; people are not thinking that hard about it and that is the point. As reiterated multiple times in this article: jokes just aren’t funny anymore once explained. Once a meme has been explained or becomes so popular that it is no longer popular, it dies.

Jackson’s thoughts on the meme and a meme’s life are quite interesting. While I disagree with her on the “shallowness” of meme’s meanings, I do find myself agreeing with the idea that more successful memes are ones whose meanings can be easily co-opted. Essentially, the template can be recycled and the meaning swapped out for another but the impact still remains. This, to me, indicates that there has to be some kind of inherent, deep-seated meaning in a template that underlies any superimposed nuance. That inherent meaning, I believe, is dependent upon the cultural context in which the meme is dependent. This is something Jackson seems to agree with me on. According to Jackson, “Memes capture and maintain people’s attention in a given moment because something about that moment provides a context that makes that meme attractive”. Once that context passes, it’s time for new memes. If a meme is not attuned to public sentiment at a certain time, it is no longer relevant.

Jackson ends her article by stating, “We create and pass on the things that call to our current experiences and situations. Memes are us.” Which I think it a very provocative idea. When memes are looked at as extensions of ourselves rather than disconnected means of communication–removed, to some degree, from us–I believe memes become easier to understand. At least, it’s easier to accept the complexity and multiplicity of this emergent medium when the human element is introduced into the conversation rather than viewed separately. The relationship between human and meme becomes more symbiotic than parasitic.

But, that’s just what I think.

Let me know if you have a different perspective. I’d love to hear it~

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~Till next time~

Five Meme Story? Say No More~

Really, say no more. Never do this to us again.

Creating A Narrative Across Memes

It sounds like a fun and inventive idea but bruh, this was not easy. Memes are these concise, little story units unto themselves and combining them is not a simple task. Even trying to get meme templates to “jive” with each other is challenging. Also, I find it difficult to superimpose another meaning atop a meme with a strong context of it own, especially if that meaning is not necessarily in the “spirit” of the meme. For example, this activity asked us to create a cohesive narrative out of five memes about how digital alchemy can combat darkness online which is a very serious and direct topic that can conflict with the free-spirited, lackadaisical, nonsensical, often subversive nature of most memes. Similarly to how providing attribution to memes online is kind of antithetical to the free-access, anti-establishment medium in some ways, attributing a serious, “this is a real problem” meaning to a meme seems somehow contradictory. Maybe that’s just me though and everyone else had a grand ol’ time doing this activity. Idk. I’m one memer of many. Perhaps I’m also over thinking the task or I’m not creative enough for it. That said, I did not particularly enjoy this activity.

Still did it, tho. With varying success.

You be the judge of my handiwork:

Click to view slideshow.You get the story? I hope so!

I meant for this work to be a commentary on how, often, a lack of input from invested and engaged citizenry in sociopolitical decision-making processes can be just as great a contributing factor to many of the issues we now face with the internet as unregulated data tracking and surveillance. In order for positive changes to occur in America specifically, we as citizens of the country are going to need to step up and activate the power we can have as a collective of concerned individuals. I hope at least part of that message got through (in a nice enough way). Another challenge I faced in doing this activity is that I don’t usually write positive stories??? I like writing harsh words filled with “mean” and mercurial characters that are able to give as good as they get from an unapologetically brutal world. Anyway.

Here’s a more comprehensive breakdown of the images I sourced to create this story:

  1. classmemeThe first image used makes use of the Distracted Boyfriend meme template and was sourced from the Somniporta’s “A Meme Countering Internet Darkness” collection. The meme in the collection is titled “Helllooooo” and is described as a meme intended to emphasize the growing disconnect between increasingly digital surveillance of American citizens and common sense. It was created using the imgflip Meme Generator. I think is opens discussion and allows for a dialogue to occur around it. I use it in my story as exposition.
  2. IMG_7352The second image used is a bit of a cheat in that it’s a Twitter post. That said, I do believe it is an example of “shitposting” (sharing purposeful nonsense online) which falls under the larger purview of memes because shitposting can also be classified as a unit of cultural transmission that spreads via inspiring further iterations of itself or the idea contained within. This post comes from @sosadtoday and I believe was posted during the US government shutdown(?) so it may have originally been referencing that. I use it to introduce a problem/create rising action.
  3. batmanmemeThis third image was one I created using the imgflip Meme Generator. I used the “My Parents Are Dead/Batman Slapping Robin” meme template. I use it to address the previously introduced action–that everything going on online is stupid and contradicts common sense. I guess it’s the climax of my story? It addresses preconceived notions about the previously stated problem head-on and demands a reevaluation of those ideas.
  4. hardpilltoswallowmemeMy fourth image was made using the “Hard to Swallow Pills” meme template and was also created using imgflip Meme Generator. I use it to summarize what was really implied by the last image–that change, in regards to the problem at hand (lol), is possible and within reach. This change, though, require reflection on our part and action that addresses some of the roots of the problems currently occurring in unregulated, online arenas. It’s my denouement, I guess.
  5. 2019-03-14 (2)My fifth and final meme makes use of a lesser-known text-based meme format that is known as the “Inappropriate Audition Songs” meme. (Read even more about the format here and check out more examples.) I used the template provided for it (hi i’m auditioning for the role of [characterand i’ll be singing [song that is inappropriate for the role]) and created my own version of the meme using my own tumblr account (hence the lack of attribution–it’s mine and I don’t feel like giving ya’ll my tumblr handle). I reference the second meme which conveys a rather apathetic sentiment to fill in the first blank of the template and, for the second blank, I reference a song that is all about making your own luck and finding your own sense of hope in an otherwise cold world. It’s the conclusion of my story and is meant to convey that while things may be bleak, if we can gather our forces and commit to change, there can still be hope~ ain’t it sweet

I hope the explanation here doesn’t take away from the story. More, I hope you enjoyed my story and I hope it challenged you in a good way.

Please, let me know what you think of my story and be sure to check out my main post on memes! It’s where all the really hot takes are 😉

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~Till next time~

dork1

The One-Sided Looking Glass…

Hey~

This week was an interesting one for me. In class, we began delving into the selfie and into concepts around self-representation in the digital age. My fave topic~

Waxing Poetic on the Selfie (Take 50 Bajillion)

For those who may be unaware, my thesis project revolves around self-representation in the digital age. Specifically, I’m investigating this subject through a Neo-Dada lens, analyzing emergent forms of digital content creation as new forms of not only self-expression but also as representative of a resurgence of traditional Dada ideals. I think there is a case to be made for recognizing emergent forms of digital content like memes, gifs, shitposting, and, even, selfies as a kind of Degenerate Art 2.0 (check out that post). If you’re interested in hearing more of my thoughts surrounding this subject matter, you can check out my thesis blog.

Anyway, self-representation and, by extension, selfies are a subject of hella interest to me. I’ve discussed my thoughts around the selfie at length here and here and my bonus post this week is all about a Vulture article which explores the selfie medium as a new genre of art. To me, I believe recognizing the selfie as an art-form is not beyond reason. Though I personally think of the selfie as more of a communication tool and selfies as a  new kind of discourse, I do think there are plenty of attributes of the selfie that could qualify it as art.

To see how some artists are incorporating the selfie into their work, I recommend checking out artist Alex Saum’s #SelfiePoetry project. It is a collection of eight digital poems that, “explores the intertwining of two ideas: the untruth behind artistic or literary histories, and our (il) legitimacy to intervene them to create narratives that make teleological sense”. This is my favorite poem from the collection and it incorporates Saum’s own Instagram and selfies:

In addition to discussing our own thoughts about the selfie as contemporary citizens of the digital age, we also explored Erving Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (1956). In class, we read the introduction aloud. In the introduction, Goffman discusses a myriad of issues complicating not just the presentation of self but the performance of self, which is something I find to be quite interesting. Personally, I do believe that the onset of digital technology has made life an increasingly performative experience. Because of social media, it”s accessibility, and the 24/7 news cycle, I do believe that a large percentage of people are performing life more than living it. That said, I find it interesting that this was a concern before digital technology. Goffman states, “I shall consider the way in which the individual in ordinary work situations presents himself and his activity to others, the ways in which he guides and controls the impression they form of him, and the kinds of things he may and may not do while sustaining his performance before them”. Essentially, as Shakespeare said, we’re all players and all the world’s stage.

If life has always been a performance, then, to me, digital means are just providing a new stage upon which to perform. The problem being that this stage is not only large but the audience as well. And, that audience is quite unforgiving in their critiques.

That said, bringing the scale back down, I tend to think of selfies in a more positive light. For me, at least, selfies have been a way for me to regain self-confidence as well as reclaim a sense of self. I’m in control of the viewer’s gaze when I take a selfie rather than at the mercy of it. I find that to be empowering as do many others. Some people, though, are critical about the empowering aspects of the selfie and argue that it is still a form of objectification. Or, mire, they argue that the selfie is simple vain and frivolous. Many people dismiss the selfie as being anything significant.

I think utter dismissal of the selfie is a very narrow-minded act. Also, I think that dismissing the selfie, which is a medium popularized by the constantly scolded Millennial generation, is a way to similarly dismiss Millennials and the notion that such an “irresponsible” and “shallow” could ever be responsible for anything meaningful. In my opinion, the dismissal of the selfie is a vilification of the Millennial generation. At least. I think dismissing the selfie is a symptom of a greater sociocultural problem.

Anyway, back to self-representation in the digital age. I feel that the selfie along with many other emergent forms of digital content expresses the partiality of self. At least, all of these different mediums together create this collage of self that communicates that self is so much more than any one thing. If anything, the #selfieunselfie project really emphasizes the performative qualities of the selfie but also how there is no one medium through which to express self. Even the selfie is incapable of conveying any holistic sense of self. To me, this doesn’t indicate a shortcoming so much as it illustrates the complexity of self and the affordances digital technology provides to expressing this inherent but often irrevocable aspect of self: that self is prismatic and multi-faceted.

Overall, I think an exploration of the selfie reveals that it is not so simple a subject as many people think or would like to believe. As Goffman’s book indicates, self has never been easy to express or capture. In fact, so much of self seems to be dependent upon the interactions we have with each other, again, removing control of self from the equation. While the onset of the digital age has certainly complicated our relationship to ourselves and each other, I think it has also provided us with new opportunities to explore complexities that we yet to comprehend. More, new technology and creative uses of this technology, such as the selfie, allow us to experiment with our identities and explore how far we can extend who we are. The digital age may come with new problems for us but it also comes with new opportunities to shed light on who we are and who we can be. I think there is so much potential for us to be so much more than we ever thought possible.

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#SelfieUnselfie Project

Though I participated in the first round of the project already, I decided to make another entry. Personally, I wanted to see if there was any change in my thoughts or perspective since a lot of things have changed in my personal life between these two Makes. I don’t think much has changed in my core concepts but I do think my latter entry is more raw, perhaps. I felt a little torn open writing it but it was a good kind of pain. Despite how often I talk about self and self-representation, I still find it incredibly painful to talk about myself and my own sense of self and what makes me feel real. Please, excuse any of my posts if they seem a little too frenetic or otherwise anxious; this topic really takes a lot of energy for me to write about.

Discussing the #Selfieunselfie Project

Make: My Selfies Keep My Secrets

Daily Digital Alchemies

In my first DDA this week, I memed my cat, Dove. I took an origami class at my local library this week and learned how to make a little samurai hat which I promptly placed on Dove’s head when I returned home and snapped a pic of. In my DDA, I imagined what she must be thinking about the undignified gesture. (She is quite the diva–which I think means something coming from me >.>)

In my second DDA this week, I let my inner child loose >.< I hope my entry isn’t too uncouth~

My Annotations on the Goffman Article

~Till next time all you pretty people ;)~

Exploring the History of the Selfie~

So, I know this post wasn’t formatted exactly as suggested but I was in “the zone” and didn’t even think of writing this post as suggested. Sorry >.< Just know I contain plenty multitudes~

When it comes to discussing emergent forms of digital content creation, I think there are few more disputed or more controversial forms than that of the selfie. It has been vilified across the board, reaffirmed, vilified again, then reaffirmed….and so on. It appears we as a people can’t seem to make up our minds abut whether or not selfies are insignificant and vain or profound expressions of self and the experience of life in a finite form. (Perhaps selfies can be a little of both???)

Anyway, regardless of your personal feelings on the medium itself, I think many of us realize that selfies do constitute their own genre of sorts. There are standard conventions that guide selfie creation and proliferation as well as entire digital platforms designed to “house” these new artifacts. Most, if not all, of us can recognize a selfie when we see one. The specific purpose of the selfie may be subjective but we can all objectively identify a selfie as a selfie.

Some people, like myself >.>, have even begun to identify selfies as art.

In a Vulture article by Jerry Saltz, there is a case made for viewing selfies as their own distinct art genre, separate from the self-portraits of artistic tradition they have often been compared to. Saltz cites the cultivation of very specific conventions as well as the “cultural dialogue” selfies seem to engage in as prime evience for why selfies should be considered as their own artistic genre. In the article, Saltz states,

These [Selfies] are not like the self-portraits we are used to. Setting aside the formal dissimilarities between these two forms—of framing, of technique—traditional photographic self-portraiture is far less spontaneous and casual than a selfie is. This new genre isn’t dominated by artists. When made by amateurs, traditional photographic self-portraiture didn’t become a distinct thing, didn’t have a codified look or transform into social dialogue and conversation. These pictures were not usually disseminated to strangers and were never made in such numbers by so many people. It’s possible that the selfie is the most prevalent popular genre ever.

According to Saltz, not only do selfies constitute as their own genre that is distinctly different from traditional self-portraiture but selfies also represent new forms of communication and socialization. Selfies are not just images, removed from a particular context. No, they are these very present, immediate messages that have a kind of agency. Selfies can be responses or reactions or affirmations or assertions or any number of poignant forms of communication. Saltz states, “Selfies are our letters to the world. They are little visual diaries that magnify, reduce, dramatize—that say, ‘I’m here; look at me.” Selfies are becoming not just an extension of our own language but almost a language unto themselves. Which is fascinating.

One one hand, selfies seem to be about self-representation and extending self beyond previously imposed finite limits but, with their increasing ubiquity, they are also becoming this cultural phenomenon that is able to express something about who we all are. Which, isn’t that what are does? It speaks to something transcendent yet so visceral. Something we can almost touch, but can’t quite hold. Which, isn’t that what self is?

The line between art and self is blurry, at best. Even if you don’t see selfies as particularly artistic or expressive, I think it’s fair to say that they are, currently, culturally significant. Which, to me, necessitates a need to look more closely at them and at what it is about selfies that resonates with so many people. What are selfies saying that we want to say? Or, that we want people to hear? What is in a selfie that is so important to share? Or, for those of us who keep our selfies private, what doe a selfie capture that is so important to save? I think these are all important questions and ones that are worthy of our investigation and consideration.

To dismiss selfies as simply trivial or frivolous or vain is to ignore what seems like the experience of more than half of the world. Like Saltz says, selfies are a way to communicate the experience of being here, of being me experiencing me in this very moment and how absolutely wild and unfathomable it is to exist. How can you ignore that???

It seems like a message that humanity has been trying to communicate for so long. It’s like some Thoreau-esque, transcendentalist bull. Just writing these words sounds like I’m trying to get at something sublime. Something that is integral to the human experience but is ineffable. I’m not trying to say that selfies are a manifestation of the sublime or that they hold some secret to ultimate self-realization but they could. 

I think it’s important that we continue to investigate the selfie and other emergent forms of digital content creation if for no other reason than because they are us, they increasingly represent us. And, we’re important subjects.

Don’t you think so too?

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~Till next time~

Thoughts on Selfies

More Thoughts on Selfies

I’m Nobody! Who Are You?

Are you – Nobody – too?

Then there’s a pair of us!

Until recently, I considered myself a selfie-queen. I would post pictures of myself daily on my social media feeds. The pictures made me feel confident and made me see myself as pretty. Despite the confidence I’m sometimes told I project, I’m actually quite self-conscious about my appearance. Growing up my skin was too pale and my nose too big and my freckles too blotchy and my teeth too crooked and… I grew up feeling like I was not enough. Posting selfies was a way for me to reassert control over my own narrative and reclaim a sense of self. Due to some personal reasons, I haven’t really posted a selfie in a while but I do still view them as these tools/conduits for self-renewal as well as self-reflection. They tell your audience that you are “feeling yourself” that day or feeling something about yourself or your life that you need to express in a way that can be witnessed.

In my selfie (left), I am pictured in the less-traditional-but-still-common full-body pose. My reflection in a mirror is the central focus. I am wearing all black which contrasts with my pale complexion and silvery-white-blonde hair. In my face, my blue eyes shine, the light from the window beyond the mirror catching the gleam in them just right. I clearly know my angles. This is not an amateur selfie. My pose is strong and my expression teasingly mysterious as my mouth is hidden behind my phone screen. At once, this image is a revelation and a secret. I’m someone, maybe–but who? Another rebel without a cause? A punk-rocker at her day-job? A girl who is deeply self-conscious about herself?

A selfie’s significance, I believe, lies in its utility.

For each one of us as individuals, it can be a tool through which we rebuild self-esteem and explore our own identities. A selfie can serve as a witness to who we are in a particular moment of our lives. But, this medium is a one-way mirror. What we see when we look at our selfies is not what everyone else sees. More, not everyone else has our own personal context. No, they only have their own contexts.

My selfies don’t reveal the many journal pages I’ve scribbled on over the years. They don’t reveal of the words within those pages, any of the poems I’ve written for people that I’ll never share, any of the memories I’ve caressed, any of the “I love you”s or “I miss you”s. My selfies don’t share the drowsy dreams drawn nor the faint stains from tear drops that couldn’t be brushed away fast enough. My selfies keep these parts of me close to the chest. They hide my mouth behind a screen.

My selfies keep my secrets.

It’s odd, when I think about it, that people don’t know about these thoughts or feelings. When I thought about what would best represent me without me being in the picture, the first thing that came to mind were my journals. My writings. Aside from me, my journal pages have witnessed the realest parts of me. More, they contain the realest parts of me. I am not just in those pages. I am those pages. I own every word in those journals. I own every experience they record. They may even know me better than I know myself some nights.

At the same time that I think it’s odd people don’t know the me within my writing, I also can’t imagine sharing my journals with, really, anyone. Though there are some words within for other people that I should or could share, I don’t write in my journals for anyone else but me.

To me, selfies and new practices of self-representation in the digital age emphasize the partiality of self. There is not one container that can hold all of who and what we are. No single picture can accomplish that because who we are is so much more.

Not a single one of us is not enough.

Fuck anyone who ever made us feel differently. They were wrong. I hope we see can see that with every #selfie and #unselfie we take.

I know I’m trying to.

****

~Till next time~

Thoughts on Selfies

More Thoughts on Selfies

The Dark Circles Beneath (My first #selfieunselfie project)

Twitter

 

 

Comment on Privacy Is A Privilege? by helterskelliter

Hey~

Thank you for your compliments! I think it’s crazy how demonized some things have become, especially things like the Internet that can be used for great public good if properly utilized. That said, I understand that it’s hard to provide free access to a resource like the Internet. People need to be properly compensated for keeping the Internet and its operations running. Idk how we’e going to resolve THAT problem though so….

Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Like

Comment on Developing Digital Literacy (One Video at a Time)~ by helterskelliter

Hey~

I think it’s interesting to consider what the Internet would be if it were totally metered, pay-to-play for consumers. I’m reminded of Do Not Track’s second episode where they ask us how much we’d be willing to pay for different services like Facebook and Google. As it stands, Google makes more money selling my data to advertisers than I’d be willing to pay for the service so…. there are a few guilty parties here (some obviously more than others but…)

I think becoming empowered about these issues is going to require us all being knocked down a few pegs. More, we may need to reconsider our conceptions about the Internet and its purposes.

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Following the Crumbs Can Be Crummy…

This post is late because of a certain snarky blog poster’s birthday this weekend #24on24

Anyway….

Hey~

This week, we explored the nature of truth in online spaces. Often, online, false news or misinformation spreads more rapidly and much further than facts or more honest news or truthful reporting of information. With this being the case, how is one to navigate online spaces and make decisions about the truth or “fakeness” of a source? Can there be any fake or real news in a place like America that has become so divided? More, does truth even matter anymore when it so easy to make up information that supports a false narrative and or straight-up choose to believe in facts or not?

Personally, I believe the truth will always matter. I believe it is important to question information and think critically about where information is coming from but I ultimately do believe that there are facts and indomitable truths. Maybe they’re not Plato’s capital “T” Truths but there are true things/people/facts out there. It is important to believe in the reality of the truth, to me, because if we can’t agree on a set of truths, then we can’t have a meaningful discussion. We could only engage in arguments–which seldom resolve problems.

What is causing division in this country, in my opinion, is a lack of faith in news organizations and traditionally heralded, respected sources of information. This lack of faith, I believe, is being caused largely by political pundits and agents of a particular political agenda who benefit substantially from the spread of misinformation and from generating distrust towards facts and critical information. How do we circumvent this, though? How do we identify misinformation online? And, more, how do we get people to care about misinformation?

That latter question may be more challenging to answer but I did come across some sources that talk about fake news and identifying misinformation online. One of them is a news articles by The New York Times. In the article, “Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News” some strategies are provided for navigating misinformation online. More, how false information spreads is analysed and discussed. Two other articles quoted in this article discuss the issue of fake news at length. One of the articles is “As Fake News Spreads Lies, More Readers Shrug at the Truth” and the other is “How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study” Both of these articles talk about more specific details about fake news and how its spread operates in online spaces. The second article seems to use Mike Caulfield’s “Four Moves” method in order to determine whether or not a specific example (i.e that fake protesters were being shuttled to Trump rallies) is fake or not (It is–no one needs to be paid to protest the guy >.>). 

Anyway, I think these articles are good sources to provide to our field guide for navigating the web. They elaborate more upon the problem of fake news in our Internet landscape and provide examples for navigating this complex and complicated landscape.

I’d give these sources about 7/10.

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~Till next time~

There Is No “NO” Button…

This post may be late because it’s a certain snarky blog poster’s birthday on Sunday, the 24th….

Hello~

Welcome back to the hellscape ^.^ This week, we’re exploring the circumstances that led to a post-truth Internet and the creation of a platform that is responsible now, more than ever, for spreading more “fake” content than real.

Strap in!

There Are Only “Okay” Buttons

In this day and age, I think it’s a given for most of us to believe that more than half of what we see online is fake. At the very least, we don’t necessarily believe that the content we encounter online has a high truthiness factor. This may be exclusive to younger generations but I do think it is a growing sentiment, regardless of political or social leanings in many case. No one believes everything they see online anymore.

But, why?

This week, we explored some of the strategies people can use in order to determine whether or not a source of information is credible. One of the methods we explored is Mike Caulfield’s “Four Moves“. I consider this a “work backwards” method. Essentially, before considering how truthful information is, you should look at the context in which this information exists–Are there other sources cited within the source? Are there other credible publications put out by this source? Can claims made within be verified by other sources? No? If not, why? To me, these all seem like basic moves one makes while conducting thorough and rigorous research. But, as we can see in this analysis of a suspect photo, these steps are apparently not so obvious.

Then why do so many people think the Internet is so fake if this kind of rigorous inspection of information is not so common?

Personally, I believe it is because of the recent and rigorous work of others done in exposing cover-ups both online and IRL that has made people more suspicious in this age. Also, I think political leanings have served to make people suspicious of all information they come across online, especially if it contradicts their world view and regardless of whether or not it comes from a credible source. We are living in “shady” times and I think the Internet has been used in the service of being shady but has also served as a microscope through which to inspect this shady activity.

Anyway, like being tracked online, I think this idea that the Internet is fake is a concept many of us now take as a given and, really, have come to expect. We don’t necessarily all remember a time when the Internet was a place where you could be fake and it didn’t matter. Which, is another aspect of this issue: the idea of being fake online is almost entirely associated with nefarious activity or with this sense of wrongdoing. Basically, if you aren’t you online, the same you you are IRL, then you have something to hide or you are purposefully trying to fool people into believing you are something you are not. There’s no playfulness or idea of experimenting with identity anymore. (Well, I do think some of that is coming back but I’ll save that discussion for a future post.) I think our jadedness with the post-truth Internet could more aptly be described as an expression of our fears–our fears of being fooled or being ridiculed or being made fun of for falling for something we believed to be true. I believe there’s a lot of complex emotion wrapped up in our ideas about the Internet and it’s ability to rapidly and unrepentantly spread false information.

This article, by Max Read, explores the web of ideas surrounding the post-truth Internet. Essentially, the core argument of this article seems to be that it’s not just one component of the Internet that is fake–it’s all of them. There are fake people using fake sites made by fake businesses to, ultimately, make real money. According to this article, that’s largely the problem. Read states, “Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real.” Here, Read is referencing the concept of Inversion. Basically, the Inversion is the tipping point where “real” traffic becomes more suspect online than bot traffic or “unreal” traffic. Computer systems and tracking systems become more apt at tracking bot traffic than traffic on sites committed by real users. It has a strong Matrix texture to it, in some ways. I think Read makes a very compelling case in this article for more attention to be paid to fake news and online tracking around it but I’m not sure I totally buy into everything he’s saying. At least, I don’t necessarily agree with some of his premises.

Mainly, I find it contentious to say that we are anymore fake online than we are IRL. Sure, the Internet provides more opportunities to be fake in some regards but, ultimately, I think it is preposterous to say that we are anymore real outside of the Internet. With how much social, academic, professional, political, cultural, etc. conditioning we have experienced every second of every day, from the moment we are alive, I think it’s inaccurate to say we are real outside the Internet and fake online. Like, I can’t agree with that. I think it’s more nuanced. I think it’s more complicated. (Check out my thoughts on that here.)

Something important that Read does talk about and that I agree with is that only advertisers benefit from the current state of the Internet. Currently, the Internet is good for ads. This is, in large part, due to unregulated data tracking and places like “click farms”. It is far too easy to game the system.

Episode 2” on the documentary series Do Not Track explores easy it is for different entities to track us, cull our data, and place targeted ads. Cookies, which are not regulated in the US Communism is apparently cool so long as it’s for surveillance and everyone gets a cookie,  can attach themselves to our computers and send back fairly comprehensive profiles based upon our data. It’s incredibly too simple.

It seems that so long as perpetuating  and pedaling inaccurate information is profitable, it’s not going to stop anytime soon. Under this system, you and I only have value so long as we can generate revenue. More than that, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are I know what is and is not true because that has no value under this system. As stated in Do Not Track, there is no “No” button for cookies; only an “Okay” button. Even if there were value in demonstrating resistance, there’s no way to do it. Which, to me, seems pretty bleak. Like, the Panopticon doesn’t even care anymore if you know that there’s no one really in the tower. That’s scary.

All this said, I feel like I need to reaffirm my own belief in the power of truth and of speaking truth to power. Though it may not have any monetary value, truth is one of the most worthwhile currencies. Every may pass but the truth will always remain. It is gold. Right now, it may feel like we’re trying to get gold out of mercury, like it’s pointless to try for the truth let alone care about it. But, it’s important now more than ever that we are consistent in our efforts. The truth doesn’t always have to be the loudest voice to be heard; just the most consistent. Power will never hear a truth that isn’t voiced. More, you and I will never believe the truths we don’t reaffirm for ourselves. If anything, that is what the Internet is revealing to us.

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Bonus Post

TBA

Daily Digital Alchemies

This week, I had some fun and created an alternate persona online named Veronica ^.^ She swears she has no idea where any emails may have gone or where any video tapes are or what the word “collusion” really means…..>.>

Also, I had some fun with pixelating an image of the night sky which I feel represents my feelings towards alchemy: that alchemy is a bright light in an otherwise dark sky. (Same as the truth.)

~Till next time~