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Habit Breaking and Habit Making

22 Apr

Field experiment four was a sad lesson about the lack of self-control I am capable of employing when it comes to school work. In completing school assignments, I changed a lot of factors from my normal habits. I usually do most of my work in my bed, grabbing the materials I need as I work. But this time, I gathered all the books and other materials I would need before starting anything. I drafted a to-do list and tried to be as specific as possible, setting up lots of small accomplishable tasks to break up the overwhelming amount of work that I needed to do. Knowing that I usually have trouble focusing and often turn to social media when I’m feeling bored with what I’m working on, I decided to try a new technique that would make sure I felt stimulated while I was working. I turned on the TV, thinking that maybe multitasking on watching a show while working on reading might make me more productive. I closed out of the tabs I usually keep open on my web browser with Twitter and Facebook so I would not be tempted to check them, and even moved the social media apps on my phone from their normal position on the home screen to the last page of apps. Finally, I set time limits for myself. I gave myself forty-five minutes to complete each task on my to-do list, and decided whether or not I was finished with a task, after forty-five minutes I would move on to the next one.

I think that using Sean Achor’s concept from The Happiness Advantage of lowering the activation energy required for the tasks I needed to complete was a really great way to improve my productivity. Generally when I complete one task, I then need to revisit my syllabus to figure out my next assignment and then get the materials I need, during which time I am very prone to distraction since I am up and moving around the apartment. By preparing a to-do list and collecting all of the materials I needed, I was ready for each new task and did not waste as much time between tasks as I usually do. Raising the activation energy of my social media sites was also effective. Even though I did not totally break the habit of being distracted from my work and wanting to check my social media sites, since I had to open a new tab on my web browser or flip to the last page of my apps, I usually decided against actually going to the site. However, I did not ever really feel myself enter into flow, though I did experience some of the rewarding elements of flow.

One element of flow I became very aware of was that of goals and feedback. Having a to-do list was a large part of this, but simply being aware of the goal of productivity was also extremely helpful. This awareness made me feel much more driven to complete my work, and brought me back into focus when my mind started to wander. Control was another element of flow that I felt very aware of while I worked. Again, the to-do list was beneficial because despite its length, it consisted of tasks that I knew I had the skills to accomplish. Had the work gone faster, I think I really would have felt like I had mastered all the tasks required of me and felt even more confidence and control over my responsibilities. Unfortunately, my mind still did wander and I was not able to complete all the items on my list in one sitting, resulting in some feelings of disappointment in myself and the experiment. The next time I make a concerted effort to use techniques to try and achieve flow, I think I will set a timer on my phone so that I am really committed to the time limits I set for myself. The race against the clock was not as urgent as it could have been, and I think a visual count down of the time that has passed or the time remaining to work on a task will motivate me to focus and get everything done.

Although I was not as thrilled by the results of this experiment as I hoped I would be, there was definitely an overall positive outcome. I often procrastinate, and seem to work best under tight deadlines. Even though I did not finish everything I set out to do, it was nice to see a significant amount of my work for the week already completed or at least well on its way to being completed. However, I struggled and was especially unsuccessful in two particular areas of the experiment, leading me to make some changes midway through. First, the attempt to multitask by watching television while I worked was an absolute failure that put me an hour and a half behind my timeline. For the first forty minutes of “working” I got absolutely nothing done because I was so distracted by the show that was on. After that first episode finished and I realized how unproductive I had been, I gathered my motivation and tried once more to read and annotate a book while the television was on. I got through about five pages in an hour, so once that episode was finished I turned the television off. I was driven to be productive and it clearly was not helping.

The other area in which I was particularly unsuccessful was completing my tasks in the time I had allotted–forty-five minutes. Of the nine items on my to-do list, I was only able to complete three in forty-five minutes or less. Unless I was able to truly make my productivity more urgent, I would not repeat the time limit parameters in the future because it was pretty disheartening to move on to a new task when I had not actually finished accomplishing the previous one. At the end of the evening, it was even more upsetting to look at my to-do list and see that most of my tasks were only mostly accomplished, but not actually finished.

This experiment was disappointing because I thought I would be able to achieve Jane McGonnigal’s concept of blissful productivity. Perhaps I was not successful in gamifying my homework enough, or perhaps I am just too set in my bad habits and frame of mind regarding large amounts of homework. I hoped that crafting a list on concrete goals I needed to accomplish would give me the feedback I needed to feel immersed in the work, but having that list did not make my readings any more interesting or any less tedious. This experiment has made me very excited for the future because I think I can be much more successful and make myself lastingly happier by applying these techniques in the workplace. When my work is focused on a topic I really care about, even if my task at hand is to read a long academic article, I feel much more motivated to complete it and am much more likely to achieve flow or blissful productivity. Further, when I am working on concrete projects and not something arbitrary like doing a reading for a class discussion, I feel more driven to complete it. I enjoy creating and being physically productive, so I think that being aware of these techniques and implementing them in my future work tasks will make me much happier, as well as influential to the happiness dynamic in my workplace.

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And I Am Now a Gamer Girl

22 Apr

In case it isn’t obvious, the title of this post should be read to the tune of Madonna’s Material Girl. A fun and carefree 80’s pop song is a pretty accurate representation of my experience in Field Experiment 3 in which I played Chore Wars, World of Warcraft, and Canasta. Although I did not gain equal measures of happiness from all of the games, I did learn that playing games is a great alternative to passive entertainment, prone to creating enjoyment and not just moments of pleasure. A fantastic stress reliever, I plan to continue to play games during my leisure time and look forward to exploring this genre.

I had the least success of all three parts of this experiment with the Alternate Reality Game. The ARG I chose was Chore Wars, and although the game has potential to foster lively and fun competition among roommates, nobody was interested in playing with me. Determined to make my gaming experience a success, I attempted to turn it into a competition against myself. But arbitrary currency was not enough to motivate me to return to the game. Still, it was satisfying to submit the chores I had completed. Since this game revolves around things I would have done with or without the game, I did not mind at all the work required to play. In addition, it was very satisfying to sit down at the end of the day and recall how productive I had been in my apartment. But after submitting my chores and receiving some virtual rewards, I did not return to Chore Wars.

One reason for my lack of interest in this ARG may have been the lack of playfulness within the game. The premise of Chore Wars does not abide by all of John Huizinga’s Homo Ludens’ 6 Rules of Play. Huizinga explains that “play is not ‘ordinary’ or ‘real’ life…’only for fun’”(8). In addition, play should be secluded and limited by time and space, but Chore Wars is both ordinary and the parameters for completing the chores are relatively unlimited. Perhaps the lack of structure and overwhelming freedom to create your network and choose how you participate is why I did not gain much enjoyment from my Alternate Reality Game experience.

My experience playing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game brought me much more enjoyment than the Alternate Reality Game. For this part of the experiment, I played World of Warcraft for the first time. I was skeptical of the violence and combat, but decided to play anyway, and was very impressed by the low barriers to entry. After studying this game in a variety of classes throughout my Media, Culture, and Communication career, I understand there to be a serious and well-developed culture surrounding this game that I did not think I could break into without a mentor. However I was happy to learn that after creating an avatar and entering the world, you are lead through a training process. I was also nervous about this game because of the intense social element. Not only was this my first time playing World of Warcraft, but my first time playing anything besides Super Mario or Tetris on my grandma’s Nintendo. I was so relieved when the beginning of the game consisted of only game-generated characters acting as my trainers and sending me on missions. It is easy to accept instructions from a computer, but intimidating to interact with other players when your inexperience could be detrimental to their mission and overall game experience.

My inexperience was a bit of a hindrance to my own game experience, since it became frustrating and then boring when I did not know how to move forward in the game. I utilized other resources like the World of Warcraft website to gather information and searched on Google for tips related to the specific problems I had. Still, breaking away from immersion in the game to find out other information discouraged me from continuing to play. But when I was not inhibited by those difficult sections, I had a great time playing World of Warcraft and was surprised to notice some lasting happiness due to the game. I looked forward to playing, and excitedly anticipated the next chance I would get to play. While playing, there were various small triumphs during the tasks and exciting rewards when each task was complete. As I completed each mission, my avatar received rewards and built her inventory of tools. At the same time, there were emotional rewards as I completed the missions and built more confidence in myself and my identity as a player.

For my experience playing a non-mediated game, I accompanied my mom to her weekly cards night where I played Canasta with her and her friends at her country club. The evening began with dinner, and the group dynamic was purely social. However, when we moved downstairs to begin playing cards, everyone became much more serious. I learned how to play the game this winter break when I was on vacation with my family, but had not played in two months when I attended the cards night. Once again, I was nervous about  entering the environment where those around me identified as players, and I identified as a novice. However, asking for help in the physical space was much easier than asking for help from a stranger online whose real face I could not even see. My mom’s friends were nurturing and motivational, giving me advice both when I did and didn’t ask for it. It got to be a little overwhelming and annoying when they would  make corrections or suggestions, and it got me thinking about how gameplay is all about the choices you make to advance.

While playing Canasta, I noticed a lot of the factors we have discussed that are important to lasting happiness that we discussed from Daniel Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness.” Every move asks you to think about the future, and plan for your future success, which is very exiting. This game also requires you to play in pairs, and the experience of having another player rely on me for her own success was a concrete example of Gilbert’s point about the benefits of being important, and feeling that you matter. With each successful hand, I was not only succeeding for myself but also for my partner, Judy. I felt added lasting happiness because playing this game asked me to work hard to remember the strategies I had learned previously, and resulted in me recalling a lot about my mood and experience from my last time playing.  

Jane McGonnigal’s Reality is Broken really speaks to the my social experience playing Canasta, and helped me to draw some conclusions about the difference in experience when playing with close friends versus playing with acquaintances. Perhaps it was because I was playing with an older group of women, or maybe it was just because I did not know most of these women very well, but expressing fiero during our Canasta games felt awkward and inappropriate. Celebrating my success felt like celebrating my competitors failure, and I was not comfortable teasing them the way McGonnigal describes can make us very happy during game play. However, in all of the moments when I held myself back from that explosion of emotion that happens with success during game play, I recalled the experience of playing with my parents and sisters while we were on vacation. Not only did we loudly celebrate our own success, but we were happy to tease and put down those on the opposing team. The happy embarrassment that resulted was a unique opportunity for my family to experience different social hierarchies. McGonnigal states “by letting someone tease us, we’re also helpling them feel powerful. We’re giving them a moment to enjoy a higher status in our social relationship–and humans are intensely attuned to shifts in social status. By letting someone else experience a higher status, we intensify their positive feelings for us” (84). This was especially rewarding for my sisters and I as we got a chance to feel a higher status than our father, who likes to think he is dominant since he is our sole financial supporter.

Through my experience of playing these three different games, I felt I developed a new identity as a gamer. I found myself excitedly anticipating the next opportunity to play, and even brought my experience into my social relationships with friends I knew are also gamers. Despite some momentary frustrations, in the MMORPG and non-mediated game I felt the benefits of eustress, fiero, and real accomplishment. My preconceived notions and anxieties about entering a social dynamic I felt no relationship to might have prevented me from ever attempting to broaden my horizons by becoming a social gamer, but I intend to continue to try new MMORPGs, and attend my mom’s cards night whenever I can. Although gamers do take the medium very seriously, playing is always centered around fun. Despite any struggles players may face, I now know first hand the benefits of the lasting happiness gaming can create. And I am happy to say that I now identify as a bit of a gamer myself.

Unplugged from the World

11 Mar

The Day of Unplugging was a tough culture shock. Even after learning the lesson from the happiness tracker that I can improve my mood by spending my time at home interacting more with my roommates instead of watching TV in my room, I have not changed my habits enough to feel comfortable without the internet to browse and television to watch before going to sleep. Without my usual leisure activities to lean on, I did a lot of reading. I got ahead on the readings for my classes, read a magazine I had lying around for over a week, and even read a few chapters of a novel, a luxury normally reserved only for vacations. Unplugging made me realize that I rely on technology for even my most basic needs, like shopping for clothes and food. Instead of ordering food from delivery.com, I decided to cook for myself and took a trip to the grocery store. The trip made me feel really accomplished because I not only got myself dinner, but I was able to stock up on meals and snacks that I do not usually have around.

Being so productive felt good, but other aspects of being unplugged did not feel so good. One issue I faced was feeling very vulnerable while I was in the grocery store and did not have music to listen to. Sharing such close quarters with strangers without the buffer of headphones was uncomfortable. Though I am always very polite and say the proper “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” as I pass by people, I can usually barely hear myself over my music and only really say it to be polite.  Without music, I was really self-conscious about talking to the strangers around me, and cared about their response. Although grocery shopping was not painful or stressful, it was definitely weird and uncomfortable, and I don’t think being unplugged really improved my grocery shopping experience.

The worst part about unplugging was definitely the isolation I felt as a result. With a smart phone, I am constantly connected. Even if I am not conversing with people, I always have social media to see what they are up to. If I am wondering what someone is doing, they are never more than a text message away. Without this world of connections in my pocket, I felt really helpless. I think this comes back to Daniel Gilbert’s discussion of control in Stumbling on Happiness. I use my smart phone to organize my connections and my schedule, to get news and information, and of course to communicate via calls, texts, and social media. I think organizing everything into this one place is feels empowering—with my smart phone, I can reach anyone I want and find out any information I need at all times. When I lost that control during the Day of Unplugging, I felt disconnected from the network that belongs in my pocket. Gilbert concludes “gaining control can have a positive impact on one’s health and well-being, but losing control can be worse than never having had any at all” (23). This loss of control made me uneasy, but the Day of Unplugging had many benefits as well.

If I had not already had concrete plans with a friend, going out would have been nearly impossible. But since I planned ahead and knew exactly when and where to meet her, the luxury of being totally uninterrupted was really nice. It felt good to be able to have a discussion without ever losing my train of thought or missing something she said due to the distraction of checking my phone, and without ever having to put our conversation on pause to respond to someone somewhere else. In the chapter “Growing Up Tethered” in her book Alone Together, Sherry Turkle interviews a group of teens and comes to realize that “young people live in a state of waiting for connection…[and] ‘interruption’ is the beginning of a connection” (172). I had not realized just how broken up my everyday life is by the interruptions of text messages and social media notifications until the Day of Unplugging.

In her chapter “Always On,” Turkle explores the immediacy of our connections, and how stifling it can be “as we communicate in ways that ask for almost instantaneous responses” (166). Much to the dismay of many of my friends, I somewhat rudely disobey the norms and do not usually respond instantaneously. Sometimes messages feel too demanding, and I take my time and think about how I want to respond before returning anything. I think if I conducted all my communications at the lightening fast pace that many others do, I would have appreciated the solitude of the day of unplugging more than I did. As it is, I do not often feel overwhelmed by my connections, so the break from technology did not feel very much needed.

I would not mind another technology fast, though I think a few hours will be more effective than an entire day for me personally. I welcomed the deeper connection it felt like I was fostering when I had drinks uninterrupted with my friend, and in the future I plan to try turning my phone off while I am spending time with friends or family. In my experience, when a face-to-face conversation is interrupted by a text, it is common courtesy to apologize for the interruption and explain who is texting and why they need your attention. This moves the conversation away from the people present, and brings it to those who are only present via technology. I think more uninterrupted conversations will make my relationships stronger, and my catalogue of gossip about others will probably shrink considerably.

At the same time, I will try to take something good away from the uneasiness unplugging caused. Interacting with strangers in a store should not be a frightening experience, so I will make an effort to immerse myself in the petite network that exists among shoppers by shopping without music from time to time. Additionally, I will try to limit myself from looking things up on Wikipedia every time I am curious about something. Interrupting my experience while out walking or while talking with friends to look things up online is not crucial, and isolates me from those around me. I doubt these changes will happen every single day, but making that effort even if only from time to time may strengthen my relationships and make me lastingly happier.

Gilbert, Daniel.  (2007).  Stumbling on Happiness.   New York: Vintage Books. Part 1: Prospection (pp.1-27)

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic, 2011. Print.

Not Unhappy

11 Mar

For the first field experiment, I completed many of the happiness surveys at Authentic Happiness, and was neither surprised nor impressed by my results. I wish that I could say I am an ecstatically happy person, but my set range is probably best described as “not unhappy.” Answering the questions in the surveys was difficult because like on any test, I wanted to perform well, so giving answers that I could tell were not the happiest option was a bit challenging. However, this was the first time I ever really reflected on my mood during a neutral time period. In the past, I was only ever really aware of my mood when I was going through depressive periods, like after the death of a friend, and was uncharacteristically sad. Examining my “normal” mood was a bit strange, since at the time I took the surveys I was not dealing with anything that made me unhappy, though there was nothing making me very happy either.

I preferred the experience of Track Your Happiness to the surveys because I did not feel the pressure of taking a test. Furthermore, since this went on for a number of weeks instead of all during just two sittings, I was able to adjust and get used to the process. Quantifying your mood on a sliding scale is difficult in that it is so arbitrary when you have never done it before, but after the first or second day of tracking my happiness I was better able to gage my mood in those terms.

The happiness tracker helped me to see some patterns in what I did and how I felt. For example, during my down time I tended to watch television alone in my room. While this is something I enjoy and it is a good way to relax, my mood tended to be better when I spent my time at home in my common room talking to my roommates. I picked up on this long before receiving the final report, which makes sense according to “The Quantified Self: DIY Mood Tracking,” “awareness [of your mood] alone can be transformative. Once you see a pattern, it’s very hard to unsee it” (Carmichael). I never thought I was unhappy at home—in fact, I deal with social anxiety, so I often prefer to be at home—but simply seeing that I was sliding the meter a little further to the right when I was sitting at the table with my roommate than when I was sitting in bed watching TV was enough to motivate me to make a change.

Still, the happiness tracker was not without its own issues. First of all, I often felt that it was capturing specific moments of pleasure or unhappiness instead of measuring my overall mood, which Dr. Martin Seligman explains is not affective to your enduring level of happiness in his chapter “Can You Make Yourself Lastingly Happier?”. For example, one day I had an allergic reaction while eating lunch that was painful, upsetting, and ruined my afternoon. After that, the happiness tracker reflected that eating made me unhappy, which is far from the truth.

I also found my results somewhat skewed since “working” has two very different meanings to me. Tracking while working at my job meant something different than tracking while I was working on homework, but there was no way to distinguish this. Despite how productive I am being, I am not generally in a great mood when I am sitting in the library or even at my kitchen table plowing through readings or papers. At the same time, going to work makes me very happy—partly because I have a job at all, and partly because I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. Although work and income fall under the Circumstances in Seligman’s “Happiness Formula,” I consider my work experience a contributing factor to my V, the variables that I control (45). I do not make much money so income is not a factor I consider, but the interactions I have with my coworkers are enjoyable, I feel like an expert at what I am doing, and attaining this job was a goal I had for a long time.

Going to work was the everyday thing that made me happiest, but the happiest moments that I tracked happened on the day after the big snowstorm when I went sledding with my friends in Prospect Park. While the thrill of flying down the hills was only a high-pleasure moment that wouldn’t affect my enduring happiness on its own, the overall experience was definitely beneficial to my lasting happiness. DH pic 1Walking, talking, and sledding together was a great way to strengthen my connection with my friends, I have happy memories to look back on, and I have something to look forward to doing the next time it snows a lot. Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness explains that humans are the only animals that really think about time, and that we set ourselves apart by planning and anticipating the future, and this makes us happier. “Indeed, thinking about the future can be so pleasurable that sometimes we’d rather think about it than get there,” Gilbert says (18). I am sure this is the case with my sledding experience—that next time it snows, going sledding might not live up to my expectations. But even writing this, I am already anticipating how excited I will be for another fun day in the park the next time it snows.

I would like to do the happiness tracker again at some point next year when I have a full time job. I wonder how losing the stress of school will affect my mood, as well as introducing the adult difficulties I do not yet have to deal with like managing my entire budget. I am interested in how a change in circumstances will affect my results, as well as to see if I keep up with the techniques I am learning in this class. Hopefully after studying ways to manipulate the V I will find myself to actually be lastingly happier.

Works Cited:

Carmichael, Alexandra. “DIY Mood Tracking (Get Your Mood On: Part 4).” Quantified Self. N.p., 25 Jan. 2013. Web.

Gilbert, Daniel.  (2007).  Stumbling on Happiness.   New York: Vintage Books. “Part 1: Prospection.” Print.

Seligman, M.E.P.  (2004). Authentic Happiness.  New York: Free Press. Chapter 4, “Can You Make Yourself Lastingly Happier?” Print.

Track Your Happiness. N.p., 12 Feb. 2013. Web.

Let’s be acquaintances

28 Sep

in danah boyd‘s 2006 paper “Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Network Sites,” she explains the dynamics of forming online friendships on the sites Friendster and MySpace. Specifically, she explains that friendships on social networking sites are extremely different from the relationships and practices of maintaining friendships in real life. In fact, she finds that many online friendships are formed simply to appear to have more friends, or because it would be too awkward to decline another’s friendship request. And although she claims that 

it is clear that these manufactured communities are often largely inauthentic. She aptly explains that these social networking sites cannot distinguish between “friends” and “acquaintances,” and it does not appear that the users mind. In fact, she explains that even MySpace’s function of the Top 8–which offers a space for users to list their very closest friends in a prominent spot on their page–is often not used to list top friends, both because it leads to animosity between friends, and because users simply reject it, such as Tila Tequila

boyd was on the right track with her analysis that social networking sites are entirely egocentric. The number of friends we have, who they are, and the interactions we choose to have with them are all markers of our cultural location and how we choose to present ourselves. However, if boyd were to rewrite this paper today, the technological affordances of newer social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter might lead her to some different conclusions about online Friendships.

boyd states 

however, it has become common practice on social networking sites to note the difference between friends and acquaintances online. For Google+ , a large part of the novelty was intended to be the concept of “circles” of friends–when you add a new friend, you place them into a circle that is only visible to you, and then when you write a post you decide which circles you want to share it with. However, similar concepts were already in place on Facebook and Twitter with the option of lists. On Twitter, lists can be made public or private, and act as a way to filter tweets coming in. Those you follow can be grouped any way you like, and it is up to you if you would like to make these lists public and visible to all, or private and only visible to you. On Facebook, the lists are even more similar to Google+ because users can create lists, view all the posts and interactions of list members in one place, and write posts specifically intended for and only visible to members of that list.

Although these distinctions are not entirely new (boyd mentions similar privacy options for posts on Live Journal) their prevalence is newly noteworthy. Recently, Facebook took on the burden of creating and managing lists for users. boyd has been proven wrong: there is a distinction between friends and acquaintances, and through a new technological affordance, Facebook can determine the distinction for you. 

A September 27th report by the Portland, Maine News Center explains the new feature:

Have you noticed lately that you’ve seen less from certain friends on Facebook? Well they’re probably not “un-friending” you. They’ve probably moved to your acquaintances list. 

The developers at Facebook have taken it into their own hands to organize our friends and acquaintances, and filter and manage the posts we are shown in our news feeds. In the earlier models of social networking sites, it was up to the users to browse their friends pages and see what they were posting, so having a huge number of “friends,” even if you didn’t know them or care at all about what they were posting, was not a nuisance. However, the Facebook newsfeed changed that. I remember when some earlier changes to the Facebook newsfeed annoyed users: it was annoying and seemed stalkerish to see every single interaction my friends were having with others. Twitter can be similarly annoying when, on the home feed, every single tweet–including conversational replies to others–are posted. Without lists, these feeds can be a lot to digest for even the most modest users who befriend only those they wish to stay connected with. And for those who think that “having lots of friends makes you look popular” an unfiltered feed can be downright overwhelming.

In response, Facebook began tracking whose pages you visit most frequently, who you interact with most, and who you seem to be most interested in hearing from regularly. There is the option to move “close friends” whose posts annoy you to the “acquaintances” list so that you will not be bombarded by their every message, as well as the option to move the acquaintances you are most interested in but don’t appear to interact with onto your list of close friends so you will never miss a post. The function even offers notifications with every post your close friends make, enforcing that close connection and making sure you never miss anything you might be intended to see.  

Though users maintain some control with the option to alter these pre-made lists, it puts into question boyd’s notion that users frame the social norms on social networking sites. By organizing–literally ranking–your friends, Facebook is enacting a lot of control over the way we interact on the social networking site. 

However, despite the option to ignore “friends” you have little interest in interacting with, authenticity on social networking sites is still as important as boyd explains it was during the “Friendster Genocide.” In fact, very similar action is being taken right now by Facebook in an attempt to put an end to fake profiles and bots “liking” pages and giving false page view counts to advertisers. Brittany Fitzgerald of the Huffington Post explains what is being called “Operation Unlike

Over the last several days, Facebook has been sweeping its site and eliminating fake accounts…[due to the fact that] “Facebook was built on the principle of real identity and we want this same authenticity to extend to Pages. We undoubtedly expect that this will be a positive change…” the company blog states.

Six years later, social networking sites have to fight just as hard to maintain an authentic site. Some sites, like MySpace, as boyd explains, and Twitter, embrace fake profiles. The number of fan sites, many of which claim to be the “real” person they represent, are prevalent on Twitter. Twitter clarifies this by verifying celebrity users, but has no qualms with the remaining fake profiles. But how do users feel about it all? What does an authentic social networking experience look like? Clearly, when these handles are not verified it is clear they are inauthentic, yet they maintain followers. Users allow Facebook to organize their friends for them, and even put labels on them–is this authenticity? Though the sites are no longer new, users are still navigating their online communities and identities through the affordances, restrictions, and common practices on social networking sites. 

 

Public Service Announcements: A Model for Advocacy?

24 Sep

Public Service Announcements are “messages in the public interest disseminated by the media without charge, with the objective of raising awareness, changing public attitudes and behaviour towards a social issue”

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founded 1941

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“The most successful advertising recruitment campaign in American history” -adcouncil.org

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First and “most successful campaign to date” -adcouncil.org

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Propaganda? Yes. Problem? No.

Public Service Announcements bring awareness and change attitudes about social issues.

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The Public Sphere:

“a realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed.Access is guaranteed to all citizens. A portion of the public sphere comes into being in every conversation in which private individuals assemble to form a public body…Citizens behave as a public body when they confer in an unrestricted fashion—that is…the freedom to express and publish their opinions—about matters of general interest. In a large public body, this kind of communication requires specific means for transmitting information and influencing those who receive it”

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“a sphere which mediates between society and state, in which the public organizes itself as the bearer of public opinion”

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Controversy

Theoretical opposition: “Domestic Propaganda”

Emergency Preparedness

How might some see this video, in a negative light, as propaganda?

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Religiously supported:

Never Tell a Lie

How might religiously-funded PSAs warrant controversy, even when they are not based on religious messages?

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Perpetuating class inequality: Potentially threatening messages coming from “above”

Ewen explains that Public Relations are a way to preserve social, economic, and political advantages of the privileged class while they were coming under attack from below. Bernays understood the public sphere as contested ground and public relations as a historic response to the vocal demands of a conscious, and increasingly critical, public.

Fatherhood Involvement

Children’s Oral Health

Do these ads perpetuate class inequality?

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Support

Empowering lower classes:

College Access

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Representing all groups in positive light:

Dropout Prevention

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Bringing PSAs into the age of consumers as producers

“we need to imagine what an active public life might mean in an electronic age”

Let My People Vote

How does this video fit into and differ from the guidelines for PSAs that I’ve laid out?

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ad council logo

24 Sep

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