Media and Current Events

See the World With Thoughts

Smore #1: What is Media Literacy

Since the industrial revolution seventeenth and eighteenth century, communication and information had played a significant part of our life. Thanks for the electronic devices, such as television, cell phones, and computers, which provide us a variety of forms of connection, we have more and more way to contact each other. Media is a host of carrying information and storing data. Besides four major ways of conventional media: television, radio, newspaper, and magazine, we have Open Space Media such as billboards. Consultative Committee on International Telephone and Telegraph distinguished five different types of media, which are Perception Medium, Representation Medium, Presentation Medium, Storage Medium, and Transmission Medium. Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. It represents the different ways of communication. Every single one of us is the producer and disseminator of the news. It is hard to keep away from unwanted messages, but we have to identify and understand what we see. Learning Media Literacy not only can improve our critical thinking skills to a wide range of issues, but also can help us understand how media messages shape our culture and society. Media Literates have the ability to correctly enjoy public communication resources, take full advantage of media resources to make themselves better, and can participate in the social progress. There are three levels of a Media Literate. First, apprehend the basic media knowledge and how to use media; second, estimating messages’ significance and value; last but not least, knowing how to create and spread information.

Smore #2: What can I do?

Unlike thousands of years ago, hunting has been considered as a “rich man’s sport”. As hunting become popular among people, more and more people start hunting endangered species for fun, for challenges, and for vanity.

Several months ago, an America dentist called Walter Palmer killed one of the most famous lion in Africa. The lion-Cecil-was beloved and had been studied by Oxford University for more than 10 years. People started organize Petition to White House, put stuffed lions on his clinic’s door as a memorial, held poster in front of the office of dentist, protesting illicit wildlife poaching and trafficking.

To avoid future tragedy like this I will not only report some illegal hunting pictures that some people posted proudly online, but also join clubs and organizations that are trying to protect wild lives. I will take part in the event that spread public awareness about the importance of keeping a diverse world. I will go to the national parks such as Yellowstone National Park and everglades National Park and learn some knowledge about those wild animals by talking to people who work in there. I will also communicate with the wildlife protectors aboard and discuss how to preserve endangered species together. I will try to write to those organization with influence so they can work with the government to tighten control by increasing the severity of fines and also enact stricter guidelines for approving hunting licenses. Although what I will do might not change the whole situation, I hope my efforts can affect people around me.

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Smore #3 Superbowl Commercial Preci Analysis (reversed)

In the commercial “First Date” (Super Bowl 50) which was acted by Kevin Hart, Hyundai, a South Korean vehicle manufacturer, successfully promoted their new products -- Genesis G80 and the “car finder” system through a “destroyed” date. The company engrossed their audiences by telling a story that a daddy followed his daughter and her date to the movie, the amusement park, and highway using the “car finder” system to track his Hyundai Genesis and continuously show up to spook the boy which keep the boy from acting inappropriate. Using example from the real life, Hyundai depicted a controlling father in an entertaining way in order to show the accuracy, convenience, and usefulness of the “car finder” system; they also created a compelling situation which most dads wanted to do to attract attentions. Hyundai’s audiences were those who wanted to track their car in a humorous tone with light-hearted music; however, by using hyperbole and humor, the commercial was very impressive expressed the daddy’s love to his daughter.

S'more #4- How does Gender in Advertising affect society?

Today, we can see commercials everywhere in our life. When we go to a website, sometimes the advertisements are more than the useful information and even cover the words we want to read. However, advertising is the best way that companies can express their idea and identity. According to CNN Student News, companies are willing to pay 5 million dollars for every thirty seconds of the Super Bowl 50 Commercial, trying their best to impress audiences so they can remember the messages. One of the most important goals of advertising is persuade people to take an action. Commercials such as Hyundai’s “First Date” and Colgate’s “Every Drop Counts” are great examples that the messages stick to people’s mind; controversially, a tedious commercial which just throws a bunch of information at people is worse than does not have it at all. Advertisements not only reflect our society and promote new technology, but also affect people's emotion and can misleading them to make unwise decisions. Some fancy situations shown in the commercials are not real. With special techniques, companies make people feel like they are left behind and have to have that product to keep up with the latest fashion trends no matter how much it costs, which can develop a vicious circle overtime. The advertisements demonstrate the societal values because if they want people to watch it, they have to make audiences agree with their idea. For example, women’s social status has increased dramatically around the world in recent years, and it shows on the commercials that we watched in class which women are depicted as hard-working, strong, and independent.

Smore #5- Media Manipulation

Some companies tend to promote their products by telling stories rather than just showing the products in front of the camera. One commercial in the Super Bowl last Sunday impressed me the most – Colgate’s “Save Water”. According to the CNN Student News, every 30 seconds of the advertising costs 5 million dollars. Colgate spends millions of dollars to make this “Public Service Announcement” instead of the traditional product advertisement. This commercial not only increased my awareness of global water conservation, but also made me remember this venerable, trusted toothpaste company. The Valentine’s Day flower advertisement focuses on the argument between lovers and the male dominant aspects of date. This company wants to persuade people to express their feeling through flowers. Although telling a story can evoke the desire of buying products, some advertisements misleading people to do something that are not good for their health. The articles on Eclass tells us that the Coca-Cola does not trying to make significant changes to solve the obesity problems on their latest campaign as they promised before. Moreover, the Coco Pops’ slogan: "Ever thought of Coco Pops after school?" make kids think it is okay to eat sugary cereal, but the truth is that the rate of obesity increased dramatically. Some companies want more and more people to buy their products and describe the product as fancy as possible regardless the social problems and who the target is. We should stop buying thing with hypocrisy in its advertising and tell friends about its fakeness. Everyone need to take their responsibility for keeping a healthy commercials environment.

Smore #6- Should Apple Fix

I think Apple should not build a backdoor that allows someone to access the encrypted data in iPhone. Today, most people have smart phones that can do far more than contacting others far away. We use our phone to record our personal details such as banking information, passwords, and photos (Article 2). Deluge of hackers is sitting in front of the computers, trying to find a way to crack the passcode. Our phone calls are recorded for various purposes. We and Apply Inc. are both responsible for a safe online environment.

In December 2015, two terrorists shot and killed fourteen people in California. FBI asked Apple to come up a new application, allowing investigators to "submit an unlimited number of passwords in their attempts to unlock the phone". However, Apple cannot get into the phone and refused to develop this technology. According to Article 1, investigators have been able to access to obtain several backup versions of the phone's iCloud data. The most recent version they have been able to access data from about a month and a half before shooting. If Apple have a backdoor application for iPhone, it will not only makes people feel unsafe whenever they use the phone, but also give criminals a short-cut in getting individuals' information.

Both freedom and security are crucial to people. It is government's job to protect us from terrorists and Apple Inc. has the responsibility for our personal data. No one wants to live under monitors and suspicion. Therefore, Apple should not build a backdoor for accessing the encrypted data on iPhone.

Smore #7 – 1984 Agree or Disagree?

In my opinion, to “torture of a person who is a threat to our country’s freedom is acceptable as long the person does not die” is definitely intolerable. First of all, how can we define someone who is a “threat” to our nation? The definition of threat is “a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done”, but no one can determine whether the person is potential a “threat” or not. Giving too much power to a specific individual is not a good idea. If we set a criterion indicates which behaviors people can do and which cannot, then individuals will live under fear. In this situation, instead of fighting for freedom and justice, there will not be any freedom nor justice left. There was once a time in US history when suspicious ruined everyone. Thousands of Americans heard the same questions over and over again, asked by McCarthyists “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist party?" Whenever torturing becomes legal, it is time that will be highlighted on future history text book and compared with 1950s by kids as a joke. Secondly, can we believe what was told from torture? People might just give information that is not correct but is what expected to be free from torturing; or he is actually innocent, however, the prison’s depressed conditions can give him a false sense of guilty that makes he admitted the crime. After ten years, the real criminals was caught and the “scapegoat” was released. There is nothing can compensate his psychological and physical trauma, as well as time that was wasted in prison -- if the person is still alive. For some illogical reasons, a few people believe that it is okay to torture of a person as long the person does not die. I doubt they will say the same thing if the ones that are being tortured are themselves or their families. Even though someone has done something bad, we should not use such an inhuman way to treat him or her. Supposing we do the same thing as they do, if we are as cruel as they are, then there is not any difference between us and the terrorists. Any forms of torture should be prohibited.

Smore #8 – Get it Straight

On Thursday, March 10, 2016, Republican candidate Donald Trump claimed that "GDP was zero essentially for the last two quarters". In the Miami GOP debate, he asserted that the U.S. economy is not growing compared to China’s economic growth. He believed that America was not great anymore and it was a tragedy. However, there were many website that collected the data of America's gross domestic product can prove the preciseness of business man Donald Trump’s words. The website showed that the U.S. GDP growth rate for the first quarter in 2015 was 0.6; U.S. GDP growth rate for the second quarter was 3.9; U.S. GDP growth rate for the third quarter was 2; and U.S. GDP growth rate for the last quarter was 1. Although the GDP growth was not like 10 percentage increase, neither one of those numbers was zero nor below zero. It looked like that Donald Trump was overstated regardless the fact. He tried to make people feel bad about the current situation and get more votes through their disappointment of the government. On the democratic side, Hillary Clinton says ISIS is "going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists." on Saturday, December 19th, 2015. In the Democratic presidential debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Clinton criticized Donald by questioning discriminatory messages that he express and claimed that ISIS is showing video of him to recruit more radical protectors. According to cnsnews, Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said that Clinton “didn’t have a particular video in mind” when she said that ISIS was “showing videos of Donald Trump” to recruit jihadists, but that ISIS was using Trump “in social media.” To prove her idea, she had to have some evidences before she talk, at least knew which video she was talking about. As a candidate, she should not just randomly say something that she believed so without any proof or research. Sometimes she just wanted to say things that interests public and got their votes. Back to republican candidates, Ted Cruz said "One of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees, without mandating any background checks whatsoever." On Tuesday, December 15th, 2015 in a Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas accused the 2013 immigration bill. He believed that president Obama’s decision about Syrian refugees. He said only three percent of Syrian Refugee in America are Christian. However, I do not think religions determine if the person good or not. If he did a little research, he would know that President Obama did not have blanket authority to admit refugees. It was the World Relief. Germany have been accepted more than 242,000 Syrian refugees in November 2015, but the United States planned only take about 10,000 refugees in 2016. On the opposite side, Bernie Sanders said "When you’re white, you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor. You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street or you get dragged out of a car," on Sunday March 6th, 2016. On the Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, Sander tried to talk about racial discrimination, but as he compared it with a specific group, his statement caused controversy. Whenever people talk about ghetto, they think about African-Americans and Hispanic prejudicially; when individuals talked about white people, they relate them with upper class. However, there are a lot of white people who have low income and live in unsecured neighborhood and a lot of African-Americans and Hispanic in upper class. He wanted to fight racism, but he cannot overstate the situation as well as being superficial.

After looking at the facts, we can tell that almost all the candidates have said that are untrue. Most of them make statements just for getting the votes regardless the facts. From one aspect, I can understand that they do make mistakes as other human beings do, but some mistakes they made were way too far from the reality. It is important to research the legitimacy of the candidates because we cannot blindly trust them by listening their passionate claims and debates. We need to make sure that the candidate we choose is reliable. I do not think most people fact check their candidates. People always use common sense when they are thinking. They should use a wider perspective. Not only candidates, but media also plays a big role in distorting the truth. If the editor prefer one candidate over another, the message from his or her can be misleading. Without looking up for the truth, we can make decision that is not the best for ourselves and the country's future.

Smore #9 – Ain’t rebellion Fine?

At the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which was held on February 14, 1956, Nikita Khrushchev denounced dictatorship of Joseph Stalin and started his Khrushchevism revolution. He was well known because of the Cuban Missile Crisis between the Soviet Union and the United State of America during the cold war. During his time, Khrushchev implemented the policy of Stalin, redressed victims from the purges, and started domestic policies revolution. After Stalin’s death in 1953, Khrushchev tried to stop the hero-worship of Stalin and his idea of becoming a strong communist nation as soon as they can was more important than developing economy and culture. He wanted to increase economic growth and change the highly centralized management system. If his domestic revolution was successful, the new policies might help the Soviet Union get out of poverty.

In the early stage of socialist construction, Stalin mode defensed the invasion of imperialism. However, the agriculture and people's living standards had not improved. Due to over emphasis on the development of heavy industry, people did not have enough food or daily necessities supply. The revolutions was inevitable and with the wishes of the people of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, the reform was a rush for quick results. There was a big gap between the impractical goals and reality. Although it had a certain impact on Stalin mode, it was just partial adjustment of the original economic system instead of fundamentally get rid of the old rules.

Today, we also have some uprisings in our current political climate. America is having an unprecedented presidential election. Both Democratic and Republican insults each other. Started from January 26, 2016, the Syria have been in political uprising for more than five years. It is a civil war between rebels and government. Several international powers are involved include America. Millions of people have to leave their own country and become refugees. It started from the security forces fired on some protectors, evolving into the demand of President Assad's resignation. More protects spread out; more cities joined the rebel. Then the protests became violent and uncontrollable. Russia supports the President Assad and America also started military intervention supporting the rebel brigades, as well as different religious groups. Chemical weapons and bombs are thrown to innocent people. Deluge of homeless people come to European countries for protection. The civil war is still going on. The world is always unrest.

Smore #10 - The Government Wins Again

On the first video, Michio Kaku, the theoretical physicist, said that the future of technology was not only bright but also can destroy the human race. He claim that building some super dangerous weapons, like atomic bombs, will be cheap and easy. The technology allow people to do it in their basements. Easy made weapons with all the social issues and environmental problems, can cause unimaginable cases. For example, the country might use nuclear weapons to defend the borders.

Today, there were hacker groups that sell their programs to government. U.S. government did not pay for it because we had time and money to develop our own. Hackers were much more professional and organized than a group of teenagers, sitting in the basement tricking people. Those cybercriminals sold their products and services online. People paid them to let their business competitors’ website down. When took pictures, people can get our address; when we tried to clean the virus on our computer, we were actually downloading the virus; when we used public Wi-Fi, people can easily see our information without even bother hacking or playing tricks.

In 2013, the most important news of U.S. government was about Edward Snowden disclosing National Security Agency’s secret information about NSA surveillance activities. Many people thought he was a whistleblower, a traitor, but more people believed that he was a hero. He was a consultant to the NSA in Hawaii. As he assessed their system, he found that although they do a lot of good things that helped everyone, they also do things without the public's awareness that shouldn't be done, which was really disturbed him. He regard himself as American instead of a traitor or a hero. He illuminates that the “NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year”. He believed that people should feel safe when they call their family by phone and internet. He said we have right to privacy and should not give up our rights. Then on the next Ted Talk, Richard Ledgett responded Edward Snowden’s Ted Talk. However, he looked nervous and faltering. He talked about they had two missions, which were Signals Intelligence mission and Information Assurance mission. One thing I noticed that when he listed all the communications that they protected, “communications that the president uses, the communications that control our nuclear weapons, the communications that our military uses around the world, and the communications that we use with our allies, and that some of our allies themselves use”. Among all communications he mentioned, none of those communications was about us, who are not president, military, or allies, used. We can conclude that technology and surveillance are a double-edged sword, it can protect people, and it can also take away our freedom and security.

Smore #11 – Is Technology sent from Heaven?

Technology develops exponentially. It has been a part of everyone’s life and is impossible to live without. Although technology is considered as double–edged sword, it makes the whole world more connected but also makes our information unsafe. On the one hand, technology not only makes it easier for people to communicate around the world, but also makes better life conditions. I have friends who are in Germany, Australia, China, and Canada. If I am in 1960s, I probably lose my connection with them. Luckily, I can talk to friends who are far away and know what is happening around them. Engineers use computers and applications to build machines that helps to do the housework and explores the universe. On the other hand, in George Orwell’s book, technology is used for monitoring and bombing innocent people. Technology takes away people’s freedom. Referring to the TED Talks we saw a few days ago. There is no such things called “privacy” in this world. And what I am writing right now can be used to against me someday in the future. In Winston’s society, people live under fear and hunger. Their thoughts are limited. No one cares about technology, and they cannot come out any new ideas.

It is inevitable the technology will help us more, simultaneously, more dangerous. We should use technology in a positive way and try to prevent any negatively potential consequences.

Smore #12 – Happiness Vs Freedom

In the book 1984, Winston says people give up their freedom to the government to exchange for happiness. The party controls people by fears and entertainments. They throw bombs to people, lying that Oceania is at war with Eurasia, simultaneously, they provide proles with songs and sports, keeping them happy instead of thinking. I think the situation is the same in our society today. Americans like things that are quick and easy. People do not care what government takes away from them as long as they have TV shows and video games. When we have a phone call to companies and government agencies, they always say they will record the phone call for various purposes. Sometimes, these calls contain our banking information and home address. In additional, there might be an unpredicted day, those recording can be used to against us for some reason. We have given up our freedom to exchange happiness, but are we actually become happier? I think for those who believe and understand the surveillance, the answer is no. Under surveillance, we have to worry about our privacy all the time. We cannot say what we want to express, and cannot do what we want to act. Edward Snowden wanted to change this situation, so he copied all the documents as he was working at the Central Intelligence Agency. He brought those documents with him to Russia and disclosed the information to public. He did not want our society to become Oceania someday and his experience told us that we are on our way to Oceania.

Smore #13 – Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation. A victim is convinced and confused by the gaslighter, and then starts questioning his or her own perspective, feeling, and memory. The word was originally from a stage play called Gas Light in 1938. In the plot, the husband wanted to convince his wife and others that she was crazy. He dimmed the gas lights in the house, but his wife found out. Although the wife noticed the changes, he insisted it was just her hallucination and she was mistaken, remembering things incorrectly. The American public is easy to gaslight because not many people check the correctness of the words said by individuals in power. Social media makes it even easier. Some politicians want to get all the votes from all kinds of special interest groups. They will tell people what they want to hear instead of consist with the political stand. The most discussed presidential nominee, Donald Trump, is “exhibiting textbook gaslighting behavior”. He is not the only first one does this, and will not be the last one. Before him, George W. Bush was also self-contradicted. When he was asked why America government used its power to change government in foreign country, he said it was for the security and hope of mankind. However, he was asked the same question in the past when he was a governor of Florida, his answer was totally different by saying that America should not push other counties to do the same way as U.S. did. We should create a website for each candidate about the words they said and Twitter they published. To increase the sense of responsibility of the society as a whole, we need to teach individuals to stop lying since they are young.

Smore #14 – Can we Autucorrect Humanity

Although some adversaries may claim truth in that technology makes our life more convenient, these cases are few and far between. In most case, we have an unhealthy relationship with our technology. The negative aspects of technology greatly outweigh the benefits. Even though we are less connected with the world than a decade before, there are many way we can prevent it become a permanent reality.

First of all, we should delete some “social apps” such as Facebook and Instagram. Hiding behind the screen makes us less social. Then, we should find an outdoor activity that we interested in. Spending more time on things you enjoy and do not bring your phone with you while you are doing it. Also, we need to wear a watch, start using alarm clock to wake you up, and put small notebook with pen in your pocket to write your to do lists. As you begin using a watch and paper, you will touch your phone fewer times. Last but not least, parents should not focus on their phone while they are with their children. Young kids admire their parents. They will simulate their parents. If we want to get more connected with the whole world, we need to teach the next generation the right way of communication. I do not think we can control social media addiction in America. Our society has been deeply invaded by technology. It is easy to start using it, but it will be extremely hard to stop using it especially when we have already used to it. Social Media is easy for people to access and it will be easier. Although we want to avoid, it is everywhere. Peer pressure is another reason that led us to addiction. Since people around you are using it, you do not want to be that one exception. I will not only limit my time of using social media, but also put away my phones when I do my work and talk with friends. Increasing social awareness by telling friends the negative effects of addition to social media is also a powerful way to prevent us falling into “technology slaves”.

part II

Look back to the beginning of the course, my original understanding of Media Literacy was too superficial. Media Literacy is not only a host of carrying information, it is also changes us. I talked about the three levels of a Media Literate, “First, apprehend the basic media knowledge and how to use media; second, estimating messages’ significance and value; last but not least, knowing how to create and spread information”. However, most people stuck on the first level. They do not have the skill of determining the important and necessary messages, instead, they just follow what the reporter says.

Before taking this class, I did not think. I was the “most people” in the last paragraph. I got to know more about current events and serious problems going on in our world. I used to trust whatever the newsman and candidates say, but now I will think twice and do some research before believing in them. And I know more about diseases, as well as elections. Prior to this class, I cannot even recall the name of those who are running for president. Now, I know what their positions are and know who I should support although I am not eligible to vote. I also have an idea of how social media mislead people with the order of reporting and an inconspicuous smile.

This class is very different from other Language Arts classes you took. We do not have textbook for each chapter. And actually, we do not even have chapters. The class followed the current events. For example, when Apple Inc. and the government argued whether they should open a backdoor for passcode, we read about the importance of security and privacy. The class is more relate to ourselves currently than authors a century ago.

For future class, I think we can do more activities than just writing Smores. The articles we read should be more careful chosen. In this class, we read two books which were 1984 and the book we chose for “Reading Across the Ridge”. It would be better if we can read more book in this class. Overall, the course is great.