In Paul Virilio’s Speed and Politics, he describes the open sea to “compensate for every social, religious and moral constraint, for every political and economic oppression, even for the physical laws due to the earth’s gravity, to continental crampedness” (Virilio 65). In many ways, this relates to how many viewed the Internet at the time of its introduction to people’s home machines. The Internet was supposed to represent a rebirth for information; it would allow people to access any type of knowledge that they wanted, connect individuals from across the country, and serve as a medium to share your ideas and stories. And it certainly has, allowing information to travel at an unprecedented rate and people to connect from all over the world.
This can be compared to the shifting paradigm of the Renaissance. With the advances in transportation and spread of information, the world became more connected during the Renaissance. Just as the Internet represented a rebirth of information, the Renaissance experienced a rebirth of thought that was reflected in art, architecture, innovations, and many other establishments.
But the ‘open sea’, as Virilio describes, does not only free people from oppression and physical barriers; the open sea “became the right to crime, to a violence that was also freed from every constraint” (Virilio 65). The freedom of the open sea did not just serve as a medium for free travel and thought, but an expansion of violence and war. The changes of the Renaissance reflects this as well; along with innovations in medicine, art forms, and transportation, there were innovations in war. Weapons became deadlier, easier to use, and more indiscriminate with who they targeted.
The expansion of the Internet and the freedom of knowledge is no exception to this behavior, and the way America is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic reflects it. America has fairly liberal laws on Internet usage, and while this has allowed the spread of ideas and knowledge, it has been just as good at spreading disinformation. During this pandemic, many people have been helped by looking at trustworthy websites (such as the Center for Disease Control’s website) to learn more about how to stay safe and how to avoid endangering themselves and others. But many have turned to the Internet to look for what they want to hear; that the disease is fake, that it is a conspiracy, that the virus is ‘not as lethal’ as the CDC warns. This type of information, found in tabloids and conspiracy videos and certain online communities, is just as proliferous as information from reputable sources. This type of misinformation is not without consequence; with armed protests happening in many cities and groups of people refusing to quarantine, these people pose a serious threat to all Americans. In one of his notebooks, da Vinci wrote, “Let no man who is not a mathematician read the elements of my work” (da Vinci 9). As elitist and highbrow as it sounds, it has some truth given our current situation- many times people will read legitimate information, but will not have the proper background to realize its legitimacy or use it in a productive way.
This severe response and militant disbelief serves as a haunting reflection of what the open Internet serves for in democratic countries. Compared to other countries, America’s internet is relatively ‘free’, and government censorship is limited. In response, the media and the Internet has been flooded with misinformation and biased pieces that are passed off as ‘news’. Instead of using technology to get educated, most people use our many sources of information to confirm their long-standing biases. This is a stark contrast to authoritarian-ruled countries like China, where the Internet is heavily censored and technology is used as a government tool to control their population. This heavily controlled Internet is easily able to control massive groups of people by only allowing government-approved ‘truths’. And while this does not fit the idea of the ‘open sea’ as Virilio imagined it, this type of control has worked frighteningly well during the COVID-19 pandemic with many areas of China having quarantine restrictions lifted already.
While the outbreak is far from over, I hope America’s response will put our usage of the Internet in speculation again. This incident, and many incidents before now, have shown that misinformation is extremely dangerous, and that the spread of conspiracies and biased articles have deadly consequences. Only by addressing these problems can we prove that the Internet can be used as a free, open medium to spread thoughts and knowledge instead of being a favorable tool to control the public.
Your depiction of the situation is excellent — but I am more reserved about your conclusions.
You may also be interested to read Elizabeth Eisenstein’s fine history of the printing press. Similar misinformation occurred during the early expansion of this technology.
Misinformation is not extremely dangerous — nuclear weapons are still more dangerous.
Misinformation may not even be the problem at all, but rather illiteracy (cf. your Da Vinci quote). Please note that it took several hundred years for even a modicum of literacy to become widespread (in early US history, literacy was a requirement to vote — but AFAIK that typically meant nothing more than the ability to sign your own name).
Also: the history of copyright law also plays a significant role.
Finally, you may also be interested to read some of my own work regarding “retard media” — a good starting point might be How to define “retard media”.
Social media and the affects it has on the way we look at our bodies and at ourselves in general is such a discussed topic, but one that although some progress is being made towards self-love and authenticity, it is a topic with possibly no correct solution or answer. I joined both Instagram and Twitter as a teenage girl. Twitter I joined to connect with celebrities that usually were out of reach, so this was exciting. Instagram on the other hand was to share photos of what was going on in my life and to be able to see what was going on in others. I believe that when I began using Instagram, I was naïve to the effects it was going to have on not only my mental health but also on my friends. I didn’t think there was much wrong with being flooded with photos of women with perfect bodies, endorsing weight loss products. Photos of women with airbrushed skin and perfect hair advertising skin care and vitamins. Reflecting back on my time now I can see just how damaging these sort of posts were for a teenager to take in. Growing into my adult years I was finding my voice, searching for who I was online and trying to feel comfortable in my own skin. Years of scrolling through feeds of Instagram each day with photoshopped perfection had creeped into the back of my mind and planted itself there. A statement that resonates with this feeling is “Users find online environments potent sites for constructing and trying out versions of self” (Smith & Watson 2014, p.75). I always thought of myself as a very authentic person, I always tried to find courage to speak my mind and be honest about how I felt. I found this difficult to convey on Instagram. I felt pressured for my photos to be perfect. I wanted to share things I loved but I felt judged. I wanted to be beautiful and interesting like the posts that I seen every day. I knew there was an issue with this. I could feel that the fact I would spend time not being in a moment because I was worried about how a photo being taken would look. Or I would be running late because I was taking a selfie to post onto Instagram because that would make me feel attractive. I would discuss these sort of things with my friends. Query if they ever felt that all the photoshop and advertising was detrimental on our mental health. My friends would tell me how they would feel ugly going on Instagram, that they felt their bodies needed plastic surgery to look like the women they seen online. They would tell me how sometimes it causes them to have anxiety for days. We all knew Instagram was causing these feelings, but we would continue to use it. Continue to follow the people that made us feel less of ourselves. It was an addiction. One of many studies that have been completed showed that exposure to celebrity and peer images increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction (Brown, Tiggemann 2016, p 37-43). Recently I had decided that I had enough, I hated how I felt going onto Instagram. I hated feeling lost online and not being sure of who I am, and I deleted my account. I took a break for weeks to reset the way my mind thought about social media. I began using my Twitter account again. I made a conscious effort to tweet about things I enjoyed and wanted to share. I tweeted my opinion on matters happening in the world rather than worrying about liking someone’s photo. I started to reconnect with people in a more human way. I find that tweeting about such simple moments such as the ones below can connect you with others in such an authentic way.
I did return to Instagram recently after my short break. Going back onto this social media site I thought deeply about the way it had affected me and how I knew it affected others. I ensure that I make an effort to be, as I have in bio, fearlessly authentic.
I now ensure I unfollow any accounts that may have any effect on my mental health or that I believe are conveying a message that can be harmful to others as well. I try to consciously share real moments and images that make me happy and disregard the need to have likes to validate these images or myself. I feel better within myself doing this and I hope that I, along with others that believe in this message, social media can become more authentic, supportive and enjoyable for all people young and old to enjoy without feeling less of themselves. Lets use social media to build each other up!
References List Smith, S & Watson, J 2014, ‘Virtually Me: A Toolbox about Online Self Presentation,’ in Poletti, A and Rak, J (eds.) Identity Technologies: Constructing the Self Online, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp.75.
Brown, Z & Tiggemann M, ‘Attractive celebrity and peer images on Instagram: Effect on women’s mood and body image’, Body Image, Vol.19, pp 37-43, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.08.007
Excellent — I think we pretty much agree. 🙂 The way I see it, pretty much the entire online universe = “social media” (even the way you define it)… you see, when we use a browser (or similar app), we navigate to online destinations (URLs — like lavitazoe.wordpress.com 😉 ) and the site “recognizes” that we have asked for information (and normally the site also delivers it — many newspapers in the USA now actually deliver responses that say “sorry, we’re not going to show people in Europe anything because due to GDPR, we won’t show you the news [what they’re actually saying thru the flowers is: we can’t spy on you in order to deliver tailored ads / news / whatever] ). LOL, I guess you weren’t expecting to have such a discussion, right? Well, in any case: most of the examples you mention are brand names (twitter was originally a word, IDK if they were able to turn it into a protected trademark or not; facebook used to be a slang term [for student directory] on college campuses, but that is almost definitely trademarked now). I refer to such sites as “retard media”, becuse they’re based on outdated media / technology. You might be able to find my definition of it if you search for it in conjunction with define or definition — you might have even more luck if you visit remediary.com and search there! Or, I could add a link here, if you want 😉
Let’s talk about screen time and technology in your homeschool. Obviously, Charlotte Mason didn’t say anything about the use of computers or other electronic screens in homeschooling. Yet screen time is a real concern for many homeschoolers. And we get questions about that topic regularly. So I asked my friend, and co-founder of Simply Charlotte Mason, to share his thoughts about it. Doug Smith is here with us today.
Sonya: Hi, Doug.
Doug: Hi, great to be here.
Sonya: Thanks for joining me.
Doug: It’s good to be on this side of the screen for a little while.
Sonya: Now, you oversee our technology and some of the business aspects of SCM. So you spend a lot of your time on the computer?
Doug: Yes. If we’re going to have an open, honest conversation about screen time, I need to make a confession: I spend most days, all day on the screen. That’s my job.
Sonya: Yes, it is. So you’re speaking from experience. What is your view on screen time?
Doug: I think a lot of times we confuse it with television. When we talk about screens, we have a variety of devices. We have our phones; we have computers; and we do have television; but they’re not all the same. And for me, it comes down to how we use those devices. Are we being creators or are we being consumers? Is it a tool or is it a toy?
Sonya: Those are good thoughts. Let’s un-layer those a little bit more. What are some ways that it could be used to a disadvantage in the home? And I think that’s where most homeschoolers are concerned about the issue.
Doug: It depends a little bit on the child’s age or even for ourselves. For younger children, it’s very important for children to have a lot of unstructured play time to be creative. They develop social skills that way; they develop their language that way. There was a time I remember when our kids were quite young, and we went camping. While we were at the campground, we camped next to another family that had a boy who was about the age of our children. So they naturally wanted to play together. Our kids went, and they played for a little while, but it was only a few minutes before our kids were back inside. We said, “Are you done playing already?” And they said, “He doesn’t know how to play.”
Sonya: Oh, how sad.
Doug: “Everything that he plays, every toy that he gets out, becomes Star Wars for him.” The only thing that this child could do was repeat the things from the movies; he could not play creatively. Our children had a lot of opportunity to read books and play creatively and use their imaginations; and they just weren’t interested in playing with this boy because of that. And he didn’t have that opportunity because of the screen. Now, that was TV. We can also have some things with our other devices—with computers or phones—that can take away our social interaction. It can put us into isolation. And we want to avoid that as well.
Sonya: You see that all the time. I see kids walking down the sidewalk on their phones, not even looking at God’s creation around them, not acknowledging people that they pass. Or sitting in restaurants and the whole family is just staring at their phones and nobody’s talking.
Doug: I saw a family one time walking through the airport, and one of the fairly young children had headphones on and was looking at the screen. And as the family in this busy airport was walking one direction, the child was off the other, and they were calling after him. He couldn’t hear them; he had no awareness of that.
Sonya: That reminds me. The other night when we were out to dinner, I saw at the table across, there was a little girl sitting there with the headphones and the iPad. Her mother was in the other room, getting the drinks to bring back to the table. And if you watched her, that child never blinked.
Sonya: She just was staring. And then she would get up to go find her mother with that iPad, the whole way just staring like she was a zombie. It was kind of a little startling. So that’s definitely what we don’t want.
Doug: While we’re on that topic of restaurants and such, one of the . . . I’m going to step on some toes here probably, a little bit.
Sonya: All right.
Doug: One of the things that happens, that I see commonly, is a child will fuss in a public place, and so to keep the child quiet, a parent will often hand them their phone to let them play some games or something.
Sonya: I see that too.
Doug: If you step back and think about what that’s doing, what you’re telling the child is, “If you threaten to throw a fit in a public place, I’m going to give you entertainment. I’m going to reward you for that behavior that I don’t want you to do.”
Sonya: Rather than doing the hard work of training that child and working with that child, interacting personally to help them.
Sonya: Wow. Any other disadvantages you want to talk about before we move on to the happy place?
Doug: No, let’s move on to some happy things.
Sonya: So what are some ways that we can use screens and computers and technology well in our home schools and in our homes?
Doug: Kids today are learning skills that, hopefully, they’re going to use in careers in life. And they’re going to be competing against other people who have grown up with computers: “digital natives,” if you will. So having foundational skills . . . Think about all the jobs that are out there. What doesn’t get touched by computers now?
Sonya: Not too many.
Doug: Almost nothing. Even if it’s just for some record keeping or collaboration with other people.
Sonya: Even car mechanics are having to do a lot of computer work and stuff. So even if you think about the trades, they still are having computers involved now.
Doug: So those basic skills, I believe, are very important: to be able to use a computer, to learn how to type, to be comfortable with some of the common apps that are used in business and in life. Those are very important.
Sonya: I use the computer a lot. For work, of course, but also in my personal life. I’m using it to do a lot of shopping. It saves me time. I order my groceries online.
Sonya: So I can see how it would save a homeschool mom, or any mom or dad, a lot of time to have those skills in place. And I assume it’s just going to grow exponentially in the future, all the things done online.
Doug: Yes, and then there are specific skills. There are things that our children can develop. And it’s great for a Charlotte Mason-style afternoons free, where they can dive into something that they have a lot of interest in. So web design, or just graphics design, is something that’s very much done on the screen. We have a child who’s interested in 3D modeling. One of our sons is a computer programmer by trade; that’s his career.
Sonya: I know one of your sons was very interested in making videos and editing videos as he was growing up.
Doug: Both of my sons and all of our children, and your children as well.
Sonya: They’d do it together, yes.
Doug: Did projects together, and they’d learn the basic skills. We got them some equipment, we got them some software, some books, and then got out of the way and let them create.
Sonya: And may I thank you for that, because now he’s my son-in-law and he edits these videos.
Doug: Exactly. He’s going to be editing this. And if you look at some of our products, their fingers are all over those products. Handicrafts Made Simple, for example, was a project that our children from both families came up with on their own.
Sonya: Yes, collaborative and based on those skills that they had.
Doug: That’s true.
Sonya: So when you say that you “give them the tools and get out of the way,” I assume you had some guidelines in place to make sure it didn’t go off in one direction. I think keeping the balance is a key. So do you have any practical tips that can help the parent navigate that, and give them the tools but still guide the child to form good habits?
Doug: When children are younger, their time should be limited. They should have supervised time when they’re using technology, and not just free reign of that, but with plenty of room to get out and do other things: be outdoors and to have creative play.
Sonya: And to work with their hands in other ways.
Doug: And to work with their hands. Now there are things on the computer where working with their hands develops motor skills as well: when they’re typing on the keyboard, when they’re using the mouse. Even some games are beneficial in developing some of the motor skills and thinking skills, if they are creative puzzle games and things like that. They can be useful, but we don’t want too much of it. And so, as the child grows and matures, we would want to give more time, based on how able they are to handle the technology. They need to prove, in little steps along the way, that the technology is their servant and not their master.
Sonya: So let me throw this at you: What about social media? There are ways to be creative with our laptops and with software, and I can see that; but are there any ways to be creative with social media? It seems like that’s a big land mine for many kids.
Doug: Sure, and it can be a time sink and all sorts of things. But on the positive side, sometimes it can help us connect and have those real relationships with each other. A few years ago, there was a writer who wrote for the online magazine, The Verge. I can’t remember the author’s name, but he did an experiment with them where he completely disconnected for an entire year, and then wrote about his experience. What it came down to is, he found that he had fewer real relationships with people that he cared about, because he was unplugged. And a lot of the organization of “how we’re going to get together” was happening online, and he was missing out on that.
Sonya: So it wasn’t so much that he couldn’t connect with people through letters and phone calls. It was that they were all on the social media and he was not.
Sonya: So they kept missing each other.
Doug: And he went into this thinking that “If I don’t have that, I’m going to eliminate some of these bad habits.” And what he found was he developed new bad habits that weren’t online.
Sonya: Oh, that makes total sense, now that you say it. Of course!
Sonya: So what are some other guidelines, we can use to help our kids for social media—some of the older kids; what else can we do to help them?
Doug: Well, of course, we can talk about being safe online and guide them into who they gave information to. I think one of the things is just to train them to come to us if they have any questions, and to help them. For older children, teens especially, I like to have a contract with them. That’s an example that says “This is your conduct when you use these devices.” For example, “If I, as a parent, ever ask you to give me your password to log into your account, so that we can look at that together, you need to do that or you are going to lose your device.” And those guidelines could be whatever you need to make it for your family, but that’s just one example.
Sonya: I have a friend who, one of their guidelines is that the computer for the kids is always kept in a public place where it’s well trafficked by the rest of the family. So they’re not working or looking at things in private that no one else can see. I think that’s wise too.
Doug: That is very wise. Another thing that you can do in a home is talk about the importance of those personal relationships with each other and demonstrate those. Now, that’s going to be hard for us, as parents, sometimes, because we’re tied to our devices as well.
Sonya: Sometimes we don’t realize how much.
Doug: Right. So maybe, . . . I know some families who, after a certain time of night, they put their phones away and they don’t go back and get them. I know some others who, at meal time, they will have a phone basket or do a phone stack. A phone stack is kind of a game where everybody takes their phones and they put them in a stack. And if anybody has to get their phone, the first one to do it gets the penalty. So maybe we agree that that’s the person who clears the table and does the dishes. A phone basket is just everybody puts them in the basket for the meal time, so that we can have that importance of being face to face with the people that we care about.
Sonya: I think those are very helpful tips for keeping a balance between online relationships and in-person relationships that are so important, and doing things “manually,” if you will, being present where you are. That is so important as well. What do you think, then, is the goal for teaching our children to use technology well or teaching them to use technology at all? What’s the goal in this?
Doug: We’ve already said it several times. It comes back to Be a creator, not a consumer. Be someone who contributes to society, who values the people around you and the people that are important to you.
Sonya: Good word. Thanks for joining us, Doug.
Doug: Thank you.
Excellent advice + tips — thank you for sharing! 🙂
Some things I would add:
compare “screen time” with “read time” (which was very controversial controversial in the 19th Century) or “drive time” (which may be more controversial soon)
can you define “social media”?
do you think that if Google or YouTube know that I might be interested in a handicrafts store, they might sell this information about me to other handicrafts stores?
Those are just a few off the top of my head. I look forward to your responses, because you appear to be quite knowledgeable on these very important topics.
As a digital strategist, we all know it’s important to earn media coverage from journalists- it creates brand awareness, increases reach, and can even attract new clients! But the lingering question at hand is; how do we get journalists to notice us?
Well, a huge platform you can use in your favor is…
That’s right- Twitter!
When Should I Send My Pitch to Journalists?
According to the State of Journalism 2020, there are many tips and tricks you can use to your advantage that will help you earn media coverage from journalists! Let me break it down.
64% of journalists prefer to receive pitches before noon
Although most journalists don’t have a preference regarding what day of the week they prefer to be pitched to on, Monday is the leading day of preference for 20% of journalists
This means that if you’re looking for the most promising day and time to send a pitch, you are most likely to have the best luck with journalists on Monday’s before noon. However, there are a few stipulations…
43% of journalists receive at least five pitches each day
The majority of journalists run fewer than five stories per WEEK
So, Here’s How You Can Combat Those Odds…
First, follow journalists on social media, especially Twitter and LinkedIn!!! This allows you to see the types of stories that each journalist is most likely to run, and may even allow for a journalist who receives your pitch to recognize your name.
Plus, if the journalist follows you back they are more likely to come to YOU for stories!
Second, make sure you are remaining active on Twitter. The majority of journalists agree that Twitter is the most important social media platform, so it is important to take advantage of this tool to connect with journalists. Even though it is a social media platform, PR professionals can use it to their advantage to network.
Lastly, a fantastic way to gain coverage from a journalist is by connecting the story you pitch to a currently trending topic. If you can connect your story to something everyone is talking about, or a meme the whole world is laughing at, you are much more likely to receive coverage! As a plus, this also allows you to add personality to your work.
For the times that you can’t connect your story to a trending topic, pictures are KEY! In fact, including a picture with your pitch follows closely behind a connection to a trending topic, with 75% of journalists agreeing it is the second most important factor when they decide which story to run.
Summary of Tricks
After all of this information, let me summarize these tricks for you so that you can ensure you’re using each to your full advantage!
The best time to pitch a story to a journalist is on a Monday before noon
Most journalists run less than five stories per week, so make your pitch stand out!
Follow journalists on Twitter and LinkedIn
Engage on social media, especially Twitter
Connect your stories to trending topics
Don’t forget pictures!
What if IDGAF about journalists (and/or twitter and/or linkedin and/or some other retard media website)? How would the enticing work in that case?