What Media is

And what it means to be Media Literate

Smore #1 Media and Media Literacy

Media is just a platform in which information and communication can be spread on a massive scale. Such mediums include radio, television, internet, or less commonly, the newspaper. Today, media is a great, effective tool to inform the public of many things, such as current events, or to increase public awareness for a certain topic. Usually, to get this information, the common people need to be media literate. To be media literate means to be able to access, analyze, understand, and create the many forms of media. It is important to be media literate so that the people interpret the information the media gives out, and form their own opinion, as opposed to being told by the media what their opinion should be. It is very crucial today, to be media literate and think for oneself, because media is everywhere. And the media can be very biased. While it is a good thing we are able to spread information on such a large scale, it can be bad as well. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but the media outlets basically gives people a very large microphone they can speak into that everyone can listen to. This is why it is important to not only be able to access the media, but also analyze, interpret, and understand the information given, because the information might not be completely correct. If a person does not have the ability to be media literate, they are not forming their own opinion, but rather copy and pasting the words of another person.

Smore #2

Police Brutality

The greatest power that we have is knowledge. So I pledge to learn about how our city reviews our police conduct. Things like who reviews civilian complaint and if there are civilian oversight. Learning things like this as well as learning my rights as a citizen when in a police encounter not only helps me protect myself, but also lets me know what I can do after if I feel I was wronged by them. For example, knowing that I have the right to record the police allows me to record them without fear of repercussion. And they are not allowed to access the video unless I was committing a crime. If they were doing anything wrong, and I know that the police conduct review has civilian oversight, then I can send the video to whoever reviews civilian complaint for them to do something about the police officer. It’s not enough to just learn about it. While all this information is free and public on the internet, Some people don’t know to look stuff like this up. They don’t realize that there is a police conduct review committee or that you are allowed to record the police. So I will share all the information I learned with the people I know. And maybe they will tell people that they know, so on and so forth. Who knows, maybe it will help them one day. And I won’t know that I helped them, but I hope that I did something to change the world and our future.

Smore #3

Pantene's Dad-Do Super Bowl Commercial

In the Pantene commercial, “Dad-Do,” suggests that “strong is beautiful,” and wants more girls to know that to be beautiful is to be strong. Pantene has NFL players DeAngelo Williams, Jason Witten, and Benjamin Watson do their daughter’s hair to contrast their strength with the beauty and innocence of the daughters to show the relationship between father and daughter. Pantene uses NFL fathers and their daughters in order to show that “girls who spend quality time with their dads grow up to be stronger women.” Pantene’s audience is directed towards fathers by using the NFL stars, using an intimate tone, to show them that fathers are supposed to spend time with their daughters.

Smore #4

Ads and Society

Growing up, I watched a lot of television. With television shows came commercials, and being as young as I was, I wanted all of the toys of course. I remember begging my mom for Heelies, the shoes with wheels on the heels of the shoe. And when she did get them, I didn’t know how to ride them, and I didn’t even wear them that much. But when I watched the commercials, it was all I wanted, the ad said it was what was cool, what was in, the new fashion.

So how do ads influence society? Well they play to their target audience. They know that boys like to be the coolest kid on the block, so they will use words like cool and awesome, and maybe throw explosions here and there in the commercial like they are Michael Bay wannabes, Or with girls they use pink and frilly dresses or say that their products are the prettiest. All these commercials say the same thing. You want this, you need this. And kids go and beg and beg their parents that they do need this, they’ll do all the chores for a whole year, and once they get it, they realize they don’t want this, and of course, they don’t do chores either.

And adults as well play right into the advertiser’s hands, being played like puppets without realizing it. People think that since they are all grown up, they know they won’t fall into the same traps like they did when they were kids, and that commercials won’t affect them. However I believe that commercials do affect the adults. Some of today’s examples are things like Beats by Dre or shoe brands like Jordans or Nike. They tell you that to be cool you have to have the newest and coolest, and people shell out hundreds of dollars for it.

So I believe that advertising plays a big part in our society. Even if you go to the past, advertising was controlling the general population. Cigarettes were heavily advertised, and people young and old were smoking. Right now we are being shown that all these big name brands are dominating the market because they influence the population that their brands are the best. And in the future, the only things that will change are the people and the brands that are being advertised.

Smore #5

How Advertisers Manipulate Us

That new phone, those new shoes, new clothes, all items being advertised that tells you that this is what you need to be cool. Those are the things you need to make friends or have fun. If you want to be cool, you have to be like the rest of society and buy all these things. So how do they do it?

People today are constantly being told what the newest fashion is, what the coolest thing to have is. They are told these are things that you want, things that you need. And they show people having fun, laughing, hanging out together, with the product they are selling being the cause for it. Or maybe they put on a sad tune and show sad images to pull on your heartstrings so you can help whatever cause they need help with. Advertisers use your emotions to sell their products, whether the ads make you happy or sad, as long as you remember their name brand.

When you think of burgers, you think of McDonalds or Burger King. When you think of phones it’s either iPhone or Android. It isn’t tissues anymore it’s Kleenex. It isn’t soda anymore it’s Coke. Advertisers aren’t just selling products anymore, they are selling brands. And they’ll use everything they are allowed to use to make sure people remember their names. So when you walk down the aisle and see a bunch of snacks, they want you to remember Doritos or Cheetos and to buy those products over the other products. This is how advertisers and their advertisements manipulate us, through associating their brand names with similar products. So when you go into a shoe store, you look for Nike or Adidas, and you don’t buy any other shoes but from those brands, because you’ve never heard of those other brands. However you trust Nike to sell you good shoes because you know them, you’ve heard of their names before.

Smore #6

Should Apple help the Government?

On December 2, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people. During the investigation, they found many phones, one of which was an iPhone belonging to Farook, which was given to him by his employer. Prosecutors say they found evidence in Farook’s iCloud account that he was talking to the victims, many months before the incident. Because of this, the government wants Apple to create a system that can brute-force the lock while bypassing the privacy guards that will erase the information on the phone.

I don’t believe that Apple should have to help the government with something that could potentially affect their whole customer base. While the government did have a warrant, this case will become a precedent for future cases similar to this. How long before the government believes any one of us can be a potential terrorist and asks Apple, or any other company, to help gather massive amounts of information from the whole country. Similar to the Patriot Act, where as long as the government thinks you might be a terrorist, it doesn’t take much for them to look into it, and without a warrant. I personally believe asking Apple to help hack into the phone will cross the line into gathering personal information, because if Apple does help, the government knows they could go bigger, because then the technology will be there.

Smore #7

Would more security cameras in public make it more safer?

Imagine leaving your house one day, and you get the sense you are being watched. Every corner you turn, every street you cross, the sense of dread and the feeling of eyes on your back does not go away. Goosebumps start, as that paranoid feeling of being followed overcomes you. Yet, whichever way you turn, whatever way you look, you don’t see a single soul, because the very thing that is watching you, is in fact soulless. You look around to see security cameras displayed nearly everywhere on pretty much every street, building, and lamppost.

So why should you, a normal and totally not a criminal citizen, be worried by multiple security cameras? Some of you won’t, because you haven’t done anything wrong. If a person has nothing to hide, why does it matter? On the other side of the spectrum, people do care, because it is their business of what they do, where they do it, and they don’t need another person watching their every move as if they were already criminals. So do security cameras make society and the public space a safer?

The problem with security cameras is that it does not, in fact, prevent or stop a crime. The only thing a security camera can do is record the information that it “sees” and deter would-be criminals. The information that it gathers can be used to identify and capture the perpetrator, as well as be used as evidence in court. However, having a security camera will not stop crimes from occurring, but rather deters a conspirator from committing a crime. A person determined to commit a crime will not be stopped by a piece of plastic or locked doors, because a determined person has a will, and if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Most people don’t think about how innocent citizens might act when there are a multitude of security cameras. While it can deter criminals, it can also brings a false sense of security to the unknowing bystander who might not take precautions in keeping themselves safe . This can give the motivation and the opportunity for a criminal to act upon.

Another problem with security cameras is the cost of setting up and maintaining the system. Who do you think is going to pay for all this, the government? There is no such thing as a free thing, and all the costs will come out of the tax payers wallet. To add to this, are we also giving up certain freedoms as well for this security? Should we give up our freedom of privacy for security?

One thing to mention is that in a public space, there are no expectations of privacy. In a public area, you can not control who listens to you or who watches you. So what difference would a camera make when it is in a public section, especially if this information can be used to catch criminals?

However, just because we have nothing to hide doesn’t mean we want to put that information out there. No one wants their dirty laundry out where people can see it. The government can already track our information through internet, phone calls and texts. The Patriot Act for example, allows the government to basically search us without a warrant or probable cause, to be able to gather information in case of terrorism. With security cameras, I believe that it will just be another method of the government to keeping tabs on us. And there are so many unknown laws out there, we might all be criminals. It wouldn’t take much for the government to find something against someone, and blackmail isn’t new. While ignorance of the law is no excuse, it is practically impossible for us to know it all, especially when lawmakers are making new ones every day. I do not believe that society and public areas will be safer with security cameras.


Smore #8

Politics

From what I’ve found, I see that politics really plays on people's emotions, rather than giving straight facts. That doesn’t mean that politicians don’t give facts, but rather, they say what they think the people want to hear. I think it is because politicians think the American people can’t handle the truth, and to me, that is a sad thought to think, because they are probably right. People don’t want to hear the truth, they want to hear that they are right. So they follow the people who say things that they believe to be right, rather than listening to what is real. I don’t mean to say that all voters are illogical, but that politics is really a popularity contest, and not a vote to see who is fit to run the country.

That is why I think it is important to do research on all the candidates that you wish to vote for. If you just vote for a candidate solely based on what they say at a certain debate or campaign, you aren’t voting based on facts, but rather your emotions. For all you know, they could’ve said something completely different in previous campaigns that you didn’t know about. And actions speak louder than words too, so if a candidate is saying one thing, but they are doing something different, you wouldn’t know that unless you had researched them, and you wouldn’t want a president who lies and completely goes back on their word.

I don’t believe that a majority of people actually research their candidates. I think a lot of the voters just vote based on who they like as a person, rather than as a president. So if there was a women candidate, then women would be more likely to vote for that candidate rather than a male candidate, assuming that they did not research, because they can relate more to that candidate than the others. You see that everywhere, people want to be with people they can relate to, and will hang in groups that they have more in common with. I believe this is the same with voters and candidates.

The biggest problem with not fact checking is that people end up voting for someone, and once they get in a position of power, they do a complete reverse and people are surprised when that happens. Some people don’t know that people will lie and cheat and say whatever it takes to achieve that level of power. People need to fact check to make sure that the person they are voting for is someone who is fit to be in that position of power, rather than someone who is there because they are popular, yet unfit to lead.

Same thing with the media. The media tells us what they think will get the most views, or sell the most papers. While what they say might contain a grain of truth, the media will twist it in a way that fits their views, and sells to an audience with similar ideals. This bias makes truth false, and more of an opinion. I don’t believe we can trust the media to give us an unbiased truth, because it won’t sell, it won’t get views.

Smore #9

Storming Bastille

People rebel because they don’t agree with what the people in power are doing. They rebel because they want to change how things are being run. People aren’t rebelling just because they can, they are rebelling because something isn’t right, and they are trying to fix that. That is why rebellions are so powerful, because the collective citizens have a common goal to reach, and they have a reason for why they want to rebel. Those citizens all agree that the government isn’t running the country right, so they change how the government is, and who is in power to someone they agree with.

That is what the people of France were working towards in 1789, and why they began the French Revolution. They disagreed with how the government ran things. There were many things that could have started it, and the citizens were all unhappy with it. For one, the French government was in deep debt, and so there were high, regressive tax rates, which hit the lower class citizens pretty hard. There were also many years of bad harvests, which led to hatred being directed to the privileged upper class, because they could afford food, while the poorer citizens could not.

So the poorer, lower class citizens, which made up most of the French population, were clearly unhappy. Here the rich nobles who were having feasts with a full belly, while the rest of the populace were starving. So they stormed Bastille. Bastille was an old fortress and prison, where prisoners would be sent to cells by the King, without trial. It was also a symbol of the French monarchy, and represented the royal authority over Paris.

Before the raid on Bastille, there were already a lot of tension between the citizens and Bastille. Especially with the shortage of food, mobs were already beginning to riot in the streets of Paris. So the military governor of Bastille was afraid that the fortress would be targeted, and asked for reinforcements. So people raided the Paris Arsenal first, acquiring several thousand muskets. Then they told the military governor to surrender Bastille and its weapons, which he refused, so the mob rushed the fortress, not worrying about dying because they knew the governor did not wish to kill the citizens. Eventually he surrendered, and the citizens gained Bastille as well as its munitions.

Today, we see rebellions and uprisings more near the Middle East. A current example is the Arab Spring. It first started out as a rebellion to get rid of dictators, as well as dissatisfaction for human rights violations and political corruption. The people were tired of having an autocratic government. From places in Africa like Egypt, Libya, Morocco, all the way to Iraq and Jordan.

Smore #10

Surveillance

Winston, from Orwell’s “1984” was a government worker, or party member. He worked in the Ministry of Truth, changing the documents from the past to match what the government wanted people to believe in the present. On the outside, he seems like a good little party member, but on the inside, he hates the Party and Big Brother. To stay safe, he acts orthodox, and doesn’t act out against the Party publicly. Even when he had evidence against the Party, he got rid of the evidence.

Edward Snowden worked for the NSA through a subcontractor. While working for them, he noticed how far the NSA’s reach of surveillance was. He found this invasive and disagreed with what they were doing, so he secretly gathered documents and data on NSA’s surveillance practices. Once he acquired enough information, he left for China and publicized his findings through journalists.

Both Edward and Winston are disgusted by what the government does, and they know what’s going on because they work pretty closely with them. They both realize that is no privacy, especially with the expansion and advancement of technology. They also realize that the other people they work with also know this, but seem to not care.

Winston and Edward begin to differ by what they decide to do with the information they have. Both know that releasing any information could mean death, and there would be a chance no one would believe them. And while Winston decides to not do anything but harbor hatred to the Party, Edward goes out and makes the information public, saying goodbye to his old life.

Also, a big difference between Edward and Winston is that while Winston hates the Party and the government, Edward doesn’t. Edward Snowden doesn’t want to hurt his country or its government, but rather disgusted by what they are doing with our privacy. So he is trying to change that. He is trying to protect our rights and he is doing these things for the public interests. He does these things not caring about his safety because he knows he is doing what he thinks is right.

Smore #11

Heaven's Technology

The “science and technology” that Orwell talks about seems to refer to the truths and the machinery used to observe the people of the world of “1984.” I think what Orwell means by science and technology is that all the advancements in the dystopian world is based around furthering the goals of Big Brother and his Party. There are two-way cameras in the telescreens used to police the citizens, which also spewed propaganda to the people. Most technology was advanced mainly for the purpose of surveillance, and others were made for torturing rebels. Other uses of technology in the Oceanian world was used to destroy the past and change it into one that the Party agrees with at the time. This controls the information that is available to the public. There was also a change in the language spoken by the people, in order to limit the thought of a person, so they can not express their views. None of the technology was used to help, save, or further the people as we have in modern times, but rather for fear to keep residents in check, so that the government can keep power; which is why Orwell says “as a whole, the world is more primitive today than it was fifty years ago” (Orwell 189), because the people are kept back, and aren’t allowed to advance.


Smore #12

Happiness V. Freedom

There is a balance between happiness and freedom. There is no way to have both complete happiness and complete freedom, at least not in today’s society. To have one of something, you have to first give up a little of something else, whether it be time or money, because “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” To be free means to be able to have the ability to choose our own actions. However, humans are selfish by nature, wanting to further their own gains, even if it means to put others down. And jealous even more so if others are more successful than they are. Rather than help them further their goals, they try to drag them down, like crabs in a bucket. We see this in children, where they go “mine, mine, mine” with things such as toys, before they are taught how to share.

We are free to do many things, and this means that we are also able to fail or do wrong in those freedoms. That is why there are laws in place to prevent those wrong actions such as murder, so that it does not impede on the freedoms and happiness of others. Because there are so many laws in place, we are not really free, but if it weren’t for those laws, we would be in a society similar to that in “Lord of the Flies.” This is so we can protect the happiness of the whole, even if the few become unhappy.

That is why the people in charge keep what is going on in the background so vague and secretive. If people knew what was really happening, people would be unhappy, especially with the methods that the government was using. That is why I think Edward Snowden released all the information about what the NSA was doing to the public. I think he knew that the public was going to be unhappy about it, even so, the people should have that right to know. If people don’t know which of their freedoms are being impeded on, like privacy in this case, they are happy. What they don’t know can’t hurt them. Yet even now, even though this information is public, not a lot of people know about him or what he did.

So I believe that Winston is right. If people were given the choice between happiness or freedom, they would choose happiness. I believe that the “bulk of the people” choose to stay ignorant of what is going on, so they can keep their peace and happiness, because if they knew what was really going on, that would disturb them.

Smore #13

Politicians and Gaslighting

Gaslighting is to manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity. It is a mental abuse, where the abuser provides the victim with false information, making them doubt their memory. The “gaslighter’ may say one thing, and then completely say something else, and deny they ever said the first thing at all. This causes the “gaslightee,” the person being gaslighted, become confused, and question their memory.

I don’t believe it has become easier to gaslight a person in today’s society. Due to the popularity of the internet today, and the rise of social media and search engines, we can look up anything we need to. It is harder for politicians even more, because they are always under the scrutinous eye of the camera. Anything they say or do to the public is recorded and plastered all over tv and the internet.

One example of a politician gaslighting another politician is Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. During a Democratic debate, accused Sanders of being ineligible of being able to run for President. Bernie Sanders has 32 years of public service experience, and Clinton has the gall to accuse him of being fake. So, Sanders decided to fire back, hinted that maybe Clinton was unsuitable for the Presidential role, given her stance on the Iraq War. Due to how much backlash Hillary Clinton received, she had no choice but abandon ship and act like the “bigger person.”

We must prevent actions like this in order to have adults in these high position offices. If we have politicians who do nothing more than insult each other all day, they are nothing more than children in big boy shoes. Every time a politician like Trump or Clinton wants to backtrack on their words just because they got some heat from the public, we must show them we remember, and can’t let them lie their way out of it. We have video recordings of them spewing insults or lies, and we must show them that we will remember.

Smore #14

Auto-Correct Humanity

While technology has advanced to the point where we can connect to everyone around the world, it begins to feel as if we are more disconnected with the people around us. And it may be true that some people are becoming more addicted to this technology, such as smartphones and the internet. In fact, in many countries in Asia, like China and South Korea, have internet addiction rehab and bootcamp centers to “cure internet addiction.” They spend more time on their phones or their computers, and become dissociated with the world around them. But some of these people, I believe, were already separate from the world around them. Instead they choose to detach from the world around them, and connect with other people across the world. Or maybe their personality was already alienated from the people around them in the first place, and the access to the internet eases that transition. However, for the majority, is this relationship with technology unhealthy? I believe that the majority of people don’t understand how disconnected they are from others surrounding them, because while technology has advanced, we still have not. People aren’t taught the etiquettes with what to do when around other people, if you have a smartphone. They are just used to being on their phones all the time, and this extends to when interacting with others. So to prevent further separating ourselves from each other, I believe we must teach them about these etiquettes and the values of spending time with each other, because it is probably likely that they don’t know. As I said, they are just used to spending time on their phones all the time.

Many times, people spend time on their phones or on social media because they are bored. Maybe they are at home alone, with nothing to do, or on a bus ride or plane ride to a destination with nothing to do. And for some, we might be shy to interact with the people around us, whereas on the internet, behind the mask of anonymity, it is a lot easier to be more comfortable around others. So I don’t consider technology to be inherently addicting, but rather that people rely on it as a crutch far too much, for far too long, and it becomes more habitual. I don’t think things become addicting until it becomes harmful to us. For example, if a person constantly chooses to be alone on the internet over eating or sleeping. And this example might be true for some, and for them, they are addicted. And these addictions are unhealthy and not good for us, however it is hard to control. As with other addictions, people can’t help the person with the addiction unless that person themselves decide they need help. Otherwise, they will keep going back to the same habits over and over again. However, these people usually don’t have people who can help them because this addictions usually drives away their friends or family, because it is such a antisocial type of addiction. And for them to get the help they need, they need someone to help break that cycle, otherwise, they might fall back into the same trap because as with any other addiction, it is a hard cycle to break.

Technology and social media is good for connecting with people all across the world, and we use this power for many things, whether it is to keep in touch with each other, or keep up with trends. We must control technology rather than let it control us, to stay masters of technology rather than be slaves to it. We can do this by being able to not go on social media just because we have nothing to do. We can do this by spending time with each other. We can do this by learning more about the technology we use rather than just using it. To be in control of technology, we must first control ourselves. We must be able to control our wants to use technology, and just follow blindly to what is trending on social media.