Cyberbullying in Social Media

The most prominent type of bullying in today’s society is cyberbullying, due to the exponential technological opportunities being created at every second because of the internet. As Bahati Rusell reminds us, words can hurt, and in his blog post Cyberbullying and Social Media he attempts to address this issue by sharing his opinion on the subject and what he believes might be a solution. The danger of cyberbullying is the fact these bullies can literally target anyone on the internet and can have complete anonymity. These bullies are basically dumping their insecurity on innocent bystanders who are just sharing their opinions online, and what is truly horrifying is that these bystanders may not be mature enough to know how to handle this kind of abuse which can lead to depression and even suicide. According to http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html , the study shows that over half of adolescents and teens have either suffered or have seen cyberbullying, and that most of these teens have also been a part of cyberbullying. Of that huge percentage that were cyberbullied, there are about 4,400 cases of individuals that have committed suicide. This kind of constant and ubiquitous behavior is unacceptable, and social media platforms need to either monitor this problem or raise awareness of this abuse.

In many cases of cyberbullying, the bullies usually know the victims and are usually in the same environment when it comes to teenagers, but among adults it usually happens online with anonymity. Nevertheless, where is the cyberbullying happening? According to research it lies most within social media platforms, with the most common battlegrounds being Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. What’s truly ironic is that these platforms’ goals is to make the world a better, positive, and connected community. So, why do they let this abuse happen on the platforms and let the abusers have no consequences, while the bullied suffer by being mocked in front of the whole world. Teenagers are most worried about people in their community seeing them being mocked online.

In his article, Bahatti Rusell makes an effective argument about why these huge companies should be taking matters into their own hands. Most of the cyberbullying is happening under their watch, but they refuse to do anything about it because of the controversy that may come with it. First, they know that a lot of their customers are those bullies, so that may cause a decrease in revenue. Most importantly, companies are afraid that if they  hire people to monitor these harmful comments and be able to erase them at their will, it might cause people to believe their violating their privacy and their freedom of speech. The arguments are faulty because first these companies are already monitoring you without you knowing, and second these bullies should be considered murderers if they lead someone to suicide. A more realistic solution could be to to raise awareness of cyberbullying in general, which means to tell all users about deleting comments that may be interpreted as cyberbullying. Besides, users of the original post already have the power to delete comments in their post, so why not use that power to do something good.

But, I agree with Bahati Rusell, companies should take matters into their own hands and start creating a more friendly and positive environment in which they promised us in the first place, because now social media is only creating  a hostile environment.

Information is Power

We are in the era of Information, we literally have the access of almost all collective human knowledge by the touch of buttons and a screen. The common saying, “Information is power,” is a testament for our addiction with technology, because we aware that with technology we can access a lot of information. Nevertheless, we assume the technology is a extremely successful business because people are beginning to the depend it, however, there is another even more lucrative business in technology a lot of people are not aware about, us. Yes, we are business for a lot of social media companies like Google, Facebook, and Instagram. We are not necessarily the lucrative part, but the information we give about ourselves and people like us is.

Huge technological business are using our information to learn about us and manipulate us, and they are also selling our information to other companies. For example, Snapchat the most used source of communication by most teenagers in America, technically owns all of the photos you send to friends, even after they disappear. Several of these business go through several loop holes in their Terms of Service trying to get the most information about you as they legally can. Everybody is beginning to hear about news about Facebook and how they might have influenced American voters in the past election, and now Facebook is getting a negative reputation for spying over us unknowingly.

The truth of the matter is that all these big companies are spying over us, but at first people didn’t mind because they were not even aware nor even was under any suspicion that companies were doing this. Now most people are worried because they fear they are being constantly monitored and that these companies are basically taking their freedom away from them. However, the most concerning fact about our information is that they are selling most of our information to advertising agencies. They use our information about our interests to make sure that the products they advertise online for you are some that they know you are interested in based on your past searches and even conversations!

Our technological identity is something that needs protection, not monitoring and companies monetizing it. We need to be aware of what companies already know about us, and we should have the right to withhold information if we do not want them knowing. It’s been long enough since the government has let this slide, its time for action.

Side Effects of Technology

A patient walks into a room and has symptoms consistent with boringness, sadness, and depression. The brilliant diagnostician discovers the patient’s illness and prescribes the medicine to help treat it, technology. Just like medicine, technology is treating our curiosity and boringness. However, like any other drug we can become addicted and it may also cause side effects.

This week’s topic in my FYS: Who Controls the Digital World surrounded around how technology is affecting our mind and body. Besides reading the prescribed articles for the week, I also found two extremely interesting articles talking about the negative side effects of technology The Four Negative Sides of Technology and The Surprising Effects from Using Technology .

The first article written by Pamela DeLoatch addresses that although technology is helpful in several ways, but it is affecting children severely. She states that it is changing the way children think, making them less emphatic, putting children safety and privacy in danger online, and increasing percentage in child obesity. Her goal with this article is to simply make sure parents are aware of these consequences and that there are several ways to prevent this effects from happening by moderation.

The latter article published by Harvard Health Letter is more concerned about the physical side effects of using technology rather than the psychological ones. They explain how the use of technology without moderation can cause pain in the hand, neck, back, wrist and other body parts. Even though we have mastered the art of texting, emailing, and typing it has caused poor posture and pain associated with every generation.

Prisoners to Technology

People have come to the assumption that technology is here for society, to ameliorate your lives, after all technology literally means applicating scientific knowledge into a practical purpose. However, the article How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind — from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist by Tristan Harris explains how technology is actually manipulating us to their benefit, not ours. It might look like technology is doing us a favor, but technology should actually be thanking us for our lack of independence without it. Tristan introduces himself by declaring his love for magic, and his previous employment as a Design Ethicist at Google. Throughout the article he goes through several ways in which technology is controlling us.

Technology controls the menu, in this case menu means the options presented to us, and we assume technology is not biased and just presenting the best options out there according to their algorithms and reviews. First of all, its their algorithm which means that the designers have total control on what shows up in the page when you request it. This is why the advertisement industry has exponentially increased in popularity over the last decade, and it is why websites like Google are making so much money of our information, opinions, and influences.

There is also another concept Tristan talks about which is known as the Slot Machine Reward System. He is implying that now our smartphones are subconsciously slot machines for us and that notifications throughout the day are equivalent to popularity and social acceptance in society, which consequently makes us happier and more addicted to technology. Surprisingly, Facebook and Instagram are as successful as they are today because of this system. #follow4follow and #like4like are another examples of the slot machine system, but it a system that is based more on social reciprocity by the amount of likes and comments we get on picture or if we get tagged in a picture.

Studies have also shown that with this overload of information, humans are becoming more addicted to information. A phenomena known as FOMSI (Fear of Missing Something Important) is making us even more susceptible to becoming addicted to technology. We have now reached an era in which we don’t want to only know information but be the first ones to hear about it as well. One of the most interesting ways in which technology is manipulating us by decision making. Websites such as Youtube and Netflix are controlling us in an extremely clever way, by not making us make any decisions. The creation of auto-play has allowed the viewer to basically not do anything but watch after only one simple click. This is a huge problem for addicts because if you want to continue you have no decision to make, however, if you want to stop you have to make that conscious decision and take action.

We have reached a point in time in which we have become way to dependent on technology for our own good. Consequently, designers are starting to take advantage of us by using technology because of our dependability towards it. So next time you open your computer or use your smartphone think about those simples decisions you take that will slowly accumulate and take your time.

 

 

What is my Digital Identity?

At the beginning of my First Year Seminar: Who Controls your Digital World we were asked to write what we believe people would find if they searched me up on google. I believe that if people google my name they might find my portfolio in the tennis academy I worked in and was part of from 2013 until 2018. I also believe they might find pictures of me playing tennis and things that are related to tennis. If they really go searching for information about me, they might find some of my acting videos and even acting resume on a website called Backstage. They might also find some articles about my charity work with cancer and my fundraiser which I organized for the past two years. Aside form these specifics that I think they might find, they will obviously find my Facebook and Instagram account online, but other than that, I don’t believe there is much else about me in the internet as I as secluded myself from posting or being too interactive in the web.

Then, we were also asked to write out what we want people to find on Google in five years, if somebody decides to look me up. After I have received my double-major degree in Pre-Med and Theater, in hopefully three years or as fast as possible, I want to first be a recognized tennis player in Muhlenberg College and hopefully do extremely well in tournaments representing Muhlenberg and more. I also hope to be more recognized in the web by being a more competitive and known Crossfitter, as is it one of my new passions and aspirations for the near future. Hopefully, I have also taken some time to update my acting portfolio, but my main goals is to mainly be recognized by my acknowledgments as a stellar student-athlete.

Once we were done writing our predictions, we were tasked to actually look ourselves up online using several browsers such as Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. To my surprise, I basically found nothing about me online. All my predictions were basically wrong, the only thing I did find, however, were tennis results and rankings in the past and my recent article in the Muhlenberg Sports page. Honestly, I was a little bit estranged but also proud of myself for not letting social media have such a huge grasp on my life. It was bit satisfying to know that people can’t just look me up online and figure out several things about me, it helps me secure my privacy.

Image found: https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-illustration-converting-digital-identity-cartoon-illustration-person-turning-pixel-version-image42302920

Technological Autobiography

 

My most significant experience with technology happened while I was still living in Brazil in the second grade of elementary school. It was 2008, and I was a short chubby kid with Justin Bieber’s haircut who just liked doing math and having fun with a specific group of friends. Nevertheless, I was emotionally bullied by the kids in the class who were either good in soccer or insanely rich. Don’t get me wrong I was bullied and it made me feel insecure about myself, but could still handle it. Around that same time I created my first Facebook account and became addicted to a game called Farmville that was a part of Facebook. So, at first I did not see Facebook as a way of communicating with people but just a game. Eventually, I began to add friends in Facebook and started to create a platform within the school and began to realize what Facebook was actually for.

One day, I had taken just about enough of the bullying, so I decided to take a stand for myself. Of course I didn’t physically stand up for myself, but I defended myself by insulting the “main” bully through Facebook. Now that I think about it, I went above and beyond insulting this bully and perhaps exaggerated in several ways. In fact, I was so over the line with expressing all of this boiling hate inside of me that the bully did not show up to school for two days following the incident. At the time, however, I thought I was a genius because I had the computer screen to protect me from anything or anyone, and I could still stand up for myself in front of the whole world, but more importantly  in front of my classmates. I won’t go into too much detail, but its safe to say that I got my payback. However, I also had to accept the consequences that came along with it.

Apparently, bullying online existed, and it is called “cyber-bullying.” The incident that I created caused so much backlash, that the director of the school held a seminar for the entire school about “cyber-bullying.” Throughout the seminar she kept glaring between me and the bullies who I stood up against. Luckily, by the end of it all I did not get called even once into the principal’s office because they knew I was just defending myself. From that day forward, no bully ever bullied me again.

As I began writing this blog post, I realized that this incident affected me subconsciously much more than I previously thought. In my social media platforms, I rarely post anything. In fact, in average I post one picture in Instagram per year. Now, this does not mean I do not use platforms such as Instagram or Facebook, but that I rarely post my own content. Needless to say, I had a very unique early experience with technology, however I believe it helped become more attentive of my actions in social media platforms, and become more cautious with technology in general.

Standing in the Shoulders’ of the Internet

Most people, including myself, assume that the internet is a system that is extremely complex to understand which makes most people, including myself, give up on trying to understand how the internet works. The irony of the matter is that, the internet basically has all the information in the world about everything we have ever discovered, so the first logical place to look to find out more about the internet is the internet! Nevertheless, we have grown way to dependent of the internet, and this dependency we have created can result in two extremely bad things. The first option, which seems to be one the one that we are on path to, is the we will eventually rely on the internet for every aspect of our lives and a costly mistake will result in our demise. Or the second option in which somebody will take abuse of this power and manipulate us to their needs. This preposition was first proposed by George Orwell in his novel 1984 in which the government takes control of everything through technology. However, the article The Internet: Everything you ever need to know mentions Orwell’s novel, but also highlights the fact that using technology and using the internet in your time seems almost as natural and involuntary as breathing. I believe that the main reason why we become so attached to the internet is because of a term known as escapism. Just like going to a theater or watching a film, the internet or a computer screen is a way to close the door to “reality”, and still be protected by the screen that is in front of you while still being connected to the whole world: it is a way of putting yourself out there, in another reality, while still being protected. Now the internet is used for its practicality and effectiveness and not as much as way to escape from reality.

“As We May Think” by Vannevar Bush Blog Post #2

The Atlantic a world renowned magazine founded in 1857 in Boston, Massachusetts by celebrated writers such Ralph Waldo Emerson, published a seminal article titled As We May Think by Vannevar Bush. The original publication date of the article was 1945, but ever since most of your media has been digitalized it was uploaded into The Atlantic website. As We May Think highlights Vannevar Bush’s major concerns about which direction technology is going and which direction technology should be taking for a prosperous future. The article does not have negative connotations and is not negative whatsoever, it is rather warning the reader about what we should be doing regarding our investments and studies. Bush also makes several remarks in which he is constantly repeating throughout the article, such as using “super-computers”, specialization and association, and “information explosion.” These are three major points of this article, which is that technology is advancing exponentially, and we should be wary of the consequences and responsibilities that comes with that knowledge.

What is truly astonishing about this article is that Bush’s prediction about how technology will advance and how transportation of data will ease over time was extremely precise and accurate. Overall, I agree with most of Bush’s points throughout the article, however what I thought was most interesting was the similarity in views of education with Bush and Audrey Watters. In comparison with Vannevar Bush, Audrey Watters is significantly more modern based on the fact that the article she published in 2015 The Web We Need to Give Students shares similar views with Bush in 1945. Nevertheless, both of these writers agree on the fact that we need to use technology as a learning tool instead of a privilege, to learn how to use all this abundance of information to our advantage so that everyone can be able to use it, not only specialists. Bush also feared the concept of specialization, which is when branches of industries begin to focus on one specific task, which might create more job opportunities but make workers less versatile. Consequently, this prediction happened and caused people in today’s society not to be as versatile with a computers as Watters would have hoped, confirming Bush’s prediction once again.

Although this is article was extremely difficult to interpret and extremely long to begin with, it is a seminal article which tackles the topic of technology’s future. After reading it over several times, it becomes clearer over time and eventually allows you to realize how eloquently it was written.

Getting Started!

Expectations 

Honestly I am extremely excited about this course. Even though I do not consider myself tech-savvy, I am extremely eager to learn all about who is actually controlling my digital world and how I will use the knowledge I learn from this First-Year Seminar to my benefit. Although I am also a bit nervous about the fact that I will be putting my writing online to the entire world to judge and see, I am still trying to be optimistic and seeing this as an opportunity to take my writing more seriously and improve by getting myself out of my comfort zone by using this blog.

Web Presence

Having my own web presence through ‘Berg Builds means a lot to me. I have always had an interest in people who upload vlogs and blogs about their life, and by creating a blog through ‘Berg Builds I am taking a step towards that direction. Having a platform as well recognized and reliable as ‘Berg Build is also very meaningful to me because it will allow to be even more open and honest with my blog uploads.

Technology

My generation relies way too much on technology, including myself… Technology has always played a huge role in my life and it will until the day I die. Even though I do not consider those people whose their life depend on technology I still spend plenty of time on Youtube and Instagram on a daily basis. Aside from most people, I also rely extremely on FaceTime because most of my family is living in Brazil and having those occasional video-calls is extremely helpful when I am feeling down or just missing them.

Public Academic Presence

As I previously mentioned, the fact that I am putting my writing online is one of my main concerns regarding this course. Although I love to write and like my style of writing, I am still aware I have plenty of flaws in my writing and it seems a bit frightening to put material into the web without having several people helping me and giving suggestions about my writing before publishing the material. Hopefully, I will create an amiable environment in this blog where I can get suggestions about writing decisions and eventually improve.