Essential Melodiness

So, here is what I love about studying identities: we are all made up of a variety of identities. We get to choose which ones we show, which ones we prioritize, how we define then, how we refine them, and how we use them to interact. When you ask someone (or even better, a group  of someones) to tell you who they are, their answers will vary vastly. Give them the task of choosing how to tell you, and the vastness of the variations expands. The colors, graphics, sounds, pictures, videos, words, textures, etc. that we use to produce something representative of our core all roll into that description as well. For more information on identities, check out the great book below. Meanwhile, here is my Glog introducing who I am. Enjoy!

Read More!

Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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On a Personal Note…

 

Though I don’t typically write emotional responses here, I’m clearly an emotional being. That being said, it’s my blog, and I really want to share this amazing experience I had today; it’s been with me all day long. I want to talk about it because it’s something  that really hits home for me, as a large majority of my friends (and myself included) fall into the ‘alternative lifestyle’ category. I had the singular experience of having a friend come out to me today. Here’s the thing. I’m not SUPER close to him, but I adore him. He’s been a very good friend to some very good friends, and he is very talented. He’s always been SUPER nice to me and he’s very funny. Also, he likes the same comic book hero I do; there is NOTHING wrong with that. In fact, he harnassed that love of comics to help him with his expression.

I guess the thing on my mind is how honored I feel that someone who isn’t even all that close to me (granted, I’ve been secretly hoping we could be better friends), would feel comfortable telling me something this sacred. Only a few days after National Coming Out Day, I am still amazed at how many brave, resilient, kind people I’m surrounded by who have exclaimed that they are who they are and they’re proud. Though I’m not necessarily super quiet about my situation (polyamory), I’m not exclamatory about it either. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I do it in the interest of others who are connected to me; they have less accepting situations.

I digress. I guess I’d always wondered what it would be like to come out, but I hadn’t actually thought about it from the point of view of the recipient. I had considered other perspectives, though. My best friend was in a short scene this Summer. He played a gay father, whose son was coming out to him as straight. That was thought provoking in and of itself. I could spend all day thinking about it… it reminds me of when I considered the implications of tv coming before books (thanks to Steven Johnson). It makes me wonder what if the norm was homosexuality, and heterosexuality was the alternative lifestyle. But now, this is a perspective I can appreciate. That being said, I can’t imagine being anything other than honored and having a heart so full it feels as though it’s going to burst. I am very proud to be someone he trusts and someone who he has chosen to accompany him on this new path. I must be doing something right. And I hope & pray (to any god who will hear me) that anyone else who is honored enough to be trusted like this, realizes what an honor it truly is.

 

What is Social Media?

Defining social media is just as important as operationally defining any variable in any research. When a term or concept remains undefined, communication breaks down on a fundamental level. Individuals may discuss the same word with two very different concepts in mind. Social media has been defined as any platform facilitating communication, as well as the content which people share over social networks. Either way, before progressing into a world thick with social media, we must define it.

Social media facilitate and enhance existing and prospective social connections (Donath, 2004). Social media, in all their numerous forms, create opportunities for individuals worldwide to communicate (Rutledge, 2012).

Social media types vary based on their main functions in communication (Rutledge, 2012). Categories includes searches, blogs, wikis, folksonomy, and social networking; each category comes with a variety of applications, sites, platforms, and technologies to facilitate their particular function (2012).  Additionally, individuals may use the same social media in a variety of ways (Chayko, 2008).

Twitter is used to connect like minded communities based on interests and geographical locations (Java, Finn, Song, & Tseng, 2007). Facebook tends to be used to maintain and strengthen pre-existing relationships (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007). MMORPGs have been used to develop skill such as teamwork and leadership, as have first-person shooters (Cole & Griffiths, 2007; Jansz & Tanis, 2007). Social media are also used as a means of identity verification (Burke & Stets, 2009), overcoming social phobias and marginalization (Cabiria, 2008; Orr et al., 2009), and education (Barnett & Coulson, 2010).

References:

Barnett, J., & Coulson, M. (2010). Virtually real: A psychological perspective on massively multiplayer online games. Review of General Psychology14(2), 167–179. doi:10.1037/a0019442
Burke, P., & Stets, J. E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/id/10329671
Cabiria, J. (2008). Real Life + Virtual Life = One life by Dr. Jonathan Cabiria [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3qwdQLSt2I&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.
Cole, H., & Griffiths, M. (2007). Social interactions in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior10(4), 575-583. doi: 10.1089/cpb.200739988
 Donath, J. (2004). Sociable media.
Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends:” social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication12(4), 1143–1168.
Java, A., Finn, T., Song, X., & Tseng, B. (2007). Why we Twitter: Understanding microblogging usage and communities.
Jansz, J., & Tanis, M. (2007). Appeal of playing online first person shooter games. CyberPsychology & Behavior10(1), 133–136. doi:10.1089/cpb.2006.9981
Orr, E. S., Sisic, M., Ross, C., Simmering, M. G., Arseneault, J. M., & Orr, R. R. (2009). The influence of shyness on the use of Facebook in an undergraduate sample. CyberPsychology & Behavior12(3), 337–340. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0214

Rutledge, P. (2012, September). Social media 101 [PowerPoint].

On Being a ‘Ginger’

Social norms come in all shapes and sizes. They change based on where you are, who you’re with, your culture, the weather, and sometimes they exist only because people THINK they do. Philosophers have been arguing morality and the breaking of social norms and values since the beginning of the ancient occupation. But what makes us take offense? Yesterday, I talked about harassment being in the eyes of the beholder, so how do we avoid offending and harassing if that is not, in fact, our intent? I’m not sure- though there is a lot of research other there- that there is a definitive answer. But what I do know is Abraham Lincoln made a good point when he said,

“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.”

So why am I even concerned with this? One of my dear friends commented on my last blog, saying that he thought by the title it was going to be a call against all of those who call redheads ‘gingers’, and the discrimination that is cast our way. It occurred to me that a term that I think of as a compliment (the term ‘ginger’ is used as a means of denoting a red head with a fiery personality and spunk, in my group of friends), is actually used as an insult in some places. It got me thinking about the term, about being a red head, and about how interesting it is that perception varies so vastly. Also, I wanted him to know that I appreciate and value the differences in our perceptions.

“Cultural reactions have varied from ridicule to admiration; many common stereotypes exist regarding redheads and they are often portrayed as fiery-tempered.” (Red head, 2012)

Certainly, in England they have a more historically negative connotation for the term ‘ginger’, as red hair is most common in Scotland and Ireland (and most of us know the struggles there). Here in the US, it seems the biggest reason people are likely to find the term ‘ginger’ offensive is if they’ve in some way been exposed to the episode of South Park where they poke fun at prejudice in general using ‘gingers’ as the trait being discriminated against. Little did South Park writers know that  people wouldn’t get the irony they were going for (Ginger kids, 2012). Admittedly, it is hard to believe (not to mention be okay with) people supporting ‘Kick the Ginger Day’ (on FB the group apparently had over 5,000 supporters at one point). Nicely done, people. And, of course, if you grow up with red hair, you have undoubtedly been called ‘carrot top’ or some other ridiculous name (carrots are roots, people… they’re tops are GREEN). In some ways, the negative perception of the “mutation” in pigment is perpetuated by theatre and movies as well (Red head, 2012).

Then again, blondes and brunettes have various jokes made about them due to the color of their hair too. There is research that suggests that men perceive blondes as being less intelligent than brunettes, and redheads as being more temperamental than both blondes and brunettes (Weir & Fine-Davis, 1989).

Click the picture to check out this annual redhead day! SWEET!

No surprise there. In medieval times, they apparently thought redheads were over sexed (is there such a thing) and  morally degenerate. That explains the no soul thing, I suppose. However, in other cultures red hair is revered (apparently Muhammad was thought to have been a red head… score one BIG one for us!)

However you perceive the word ‘ginger’, I guess the point is to make sure you aren’t calling someone a ‘ginger’ who doesn’t want to be called by that name. Intention matters, and if you’re being cruel to someone, any word can become a derogatory one; keep it in mind. As for me, and I hope my friend forgives me for this, I’m going to keep calling my little rants ‘Ginger Rage’. I am proud of the fact that I am feisty, temperamental, and don’t have to dye my hair to have an excuse for it all. I take pride in my heritage (I’m Irish), in my excess of pheomelanin, and although “I have a thing for redheads” gets old as a pick up line, there’s a part of me that can’t blame them. We have the peacock thing happening… we’re pretty incredible, what can I say?

References: 

Ginger kids. (2012, September). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginger_Kids

Red hair. (2012, September). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_hair#Beliefs_about_temperament

Weir, S., & Fine-Davis, M. (1989). “Dumb blonde” and “temperamental redhead”: The effect of hair colour on some attributed personality characteristics of women. The Irish Journal of Psychology, 10(1), 11-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/617608718?accountid=10868

Ginger Rage: Cyber Bullying

The Rant…

Today I remembered just how maddening being bullied can be. Being bullied doesn’t have to be physical violence or blatantly offensive names; anything that belittles, embarrasses, or purposefully hurts in any way counts. So when someone uses Facebook comments to try to turn friends against you, it counts. So here is my take on it: social media is, among other things, a way for people to communicate in a safe environment. There are those who are socially inhibited or inept who find some measure of relief through the disinhibition being behind the computer screen affords. There are those who play games as a means of escaping the havoc of their offline lives, and experiences brief respite. Creepers, trolls, flamers, and stalkers make any situation- media or not- unsafe and downright frightening. In my example (my day… it was no bueno), when I find out that someone is attempting to turn my best friend against me, by using words (that were NOT meant for her) against me, I become afraid to say anything; to express myself. What’s more, I can’t see what is being said, or how much I’m exposing myself when it’s done with cyber stalking. So, rather than hiding, like so many others, I’m doing something about it. I’m giving her all the fodder she needs. There is a level of maturity that comes with being responsible technology users. While having freedom of speech is a right, it is also a privilege. Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we should abuse it or use it to hurt others. Just because you THINK there are no consequences to your actions, doesn’t mean there aren’t; you never know when it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass. So many of our pop culture favorites speak to this: Spider-man, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” the force in Star Wars, Thor and the abuse of his power on Asgard before his daddy reamed him… the list goes on. Just cause you can, doesn’t mean you should.

What we can do, however, is speak out against it. In the links below, I’m including a small variety of media which give examples of cyber bullying (from sexual harassment in video games to in school bullying), point to resources for prevention, and some research on the subject. Remember when you’re reading these links, that I’m in no way saying I agree with any of the bullying, regardless of whether I agree with the values or opinions of those who are being attacked. Bottom line: attacking is attacking is attacking. NO ONE DESERVES IT! Also, this is, by no means, an exhaustive list so be sure to check for yourself for more info. I hate to think Darwin’s survival of the fittest is at work with bullies too… but sometimes it’s really hard to endure being the good guy; so let’s stand together.

The Solution…

Feminist Blogger Is a Victim of a Vicious Videogame Retaliation

Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones

Cyberbullying: What School Administrators (And Parents) Can Do

Don’t Stand By: Stand Up Campaign

Cyberbullying Research Center

Cyberbully Movie (by ABC Family)

Research Review: Attachment Style Differences in Online Relationship Involvement

This week, I figured we would change it up a bit; go more vague media, less specifically gaming.

Dr. Jiali Ye (2007) decided to look into whether or not relationship development and satisfaction differs in ways similar to offline relationships. A questionnaire was sent via Google Newsgroups, fetching just over 100 respondents. On average, the respondents were 35 years old.

Dr. Ye was asked about how long respondents’ relationships had been going on, to what extent they interacted online, and how satisfied they were with those relationships. Repondents were asked whether the relationships were casual, close, or romantic. Finally, items were included that measured attachment types: secure, dismissal, fearful, and preoccupied. Let’s clarify what these mean before I continue.

I knew I was a Lucy fan! Wait…

In this case, a secure attachment style is one which the individual is comfortable being intimate, but also okay doing things on their own. A dismissal attachment style means the individuals tend to want to be alone and don’t really do the relationship thing. Fearful individuals want an intimate and close relationship, but they’re afraid of failure, so they avoid them. And preoccupied individuals are dependent on their partners, but still afraid of rejection.

What Dr. Ye found was not surprising; those who are have closer relationships tend to be more comfortable having deep online relationships and are more satisfied with them, as well. And this seems to be true for all four attachment styles. Dr. Ye theorizes that this may be due to the lack of cues that we tend to make judgments based on, created a more level playing field for the relationships. The only time any of the attachment styles differed was in casual relationships; secure and fearful individuals were okay sharing more online than the others were. The only real difference in satisfaction was that casual relationships didn’t appear to be as satisfying as close or romantic relationships- duh.

So there you have it! Though this is, in no way, the end all authority on relationships and the internet, it is one of the early measures of online attachment styles and how they interact with online relationships. Ooh! Maybe next week, I’ll talk about all the reasons that long-distance, online relationships are likely to create more intimate connections than face-to-face ones!

/digs out research while laughing maniacally

References:

Ye, J. (2007). Attachment style differences in online relationship involvement: An examination of interaction characteristics and relationship satisfaction. CyberPsychology & Behavior10(4), 605-607. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2007.9982

Desperately Seeking Future

This is the portion of the show where we contemplate what our dream social technology would do. I’m not great at dreaming big (the hazard of being a realist). I am, however, great at explaining why I like what I like; we start there.

First and foremost, my favorite social media is Google; all of it. The reason being that there are so many ways to connect, types of uses, and useful media all under one roof. That being said, Google doesn’t work under one application (at least on my phone), so moving from one to the other can be challenging. Google, as a company, seems to be mindful of ways in which the internet COULD be used better, rather than just coming up with more options for current use (although Google+ did kinda do that).

I love Skype because it allows me to see and hear friends who are far away (same reason I enjoy Google Hangouts). I like Twitter because it allows me to connect with people I don’t otherwise know via networking and like-minded communities. Most of my new friends come from Twitter. Twitter, for the record, is also where my secret venting account is. Control over who sees you ginger rage is good. Facebook allows me to keep contact with friends from long ago, keep up on current events (because that’s where they get posted… sadly), and keep in (distant) touch with family that is, well… family. StumbleUpon and Pinterest allow me to explore sites and places on the interwebs that I would likely never find on my own, as well as connect with people who are like minded. Foursquare feeds my competitive side while I’m out doing chores I would be doing otherwise, helps me connect with people in my community who frequent similar places, and gives great access to great tips and discounts. I love texting because it allows me to have instant access to my friends and let’s me word things deliberately. Email gives me a similar outlet, but I tend to use it more formally, and typically when I don’t need an immediate response. I love Pandora because it let’s me discover new music for when I’m studying or gaming, as well as let’s me customize a playlist of music I don’t necessarily own. Dropbox allows me to share things that I don’t want everyone else to see. Gaming let’s me socialize, achieve, and escape. And I love the skills I develop from gaming as well. Finally, WordPress, of course, gives me a place to share my passion, as nerdy as they tend to be. 😉

So, now that I’ve nearly exhausted my list of social technologies I love already, what can be better? Having them all in one place. While the cell phone is nearly that (and allows for immediate and mobile access to boot), I’m talking about an all in one, open source (Apple and Microsoft give me a headache with their exclusivity and partnering), simply designed but fully customizable, social technology that allows for all of my contacts, venting, exploring, connecting,  sharing, etc.

Oh… and here’s the kicker; the reason it’s a dream: I want it to be ad free. No sponsors begging me to allow them to control all of my doohickies… none of that.  I know it’s a lot to ask. But this is MY dream, right?

OOH! And since we ARE dreaming… I want it all to be in an AR contact lens that allows me to drive and still wear my vision correcting lenses. 🙂

Portable Media: What Will These Crazy Kids Come Up With Next?

Mobility means the ability to take something outside of it’s typical physical limitations. It means not having to adhere to a specific locale. But this doesn’t have to only refer to our ability to carry something with us, it can also mean the movement of metal property from one sociomental space to another. Messages may travel from one person to the next; this network of consumers (who are simultaneously producing content) becomes a very powerful, very intimidating thing (Shirky, 2009).But the fact that we can also carry physical connections to our networks means we are able to distribute our mental property at any time, to any one in the world.

Mobile technology can become a powerful tool. When we forget the latest and greatest features, and get back to the basic operations, remembering it’s very basic functions and putting them to work creatively is when we are empowered by them (Shirky, 2009). Indigenous people are using social media to communicate their struggles, pass on tradition, and overcome oppression (Wilson & Steward, 2008). People find it their personal mission to deploy social agendas via portable technologies (Chayko, 2008). Chayko observes that the ‘have nots’ are falling further behind as technology swiftly progresses. However, I would argue that the ‘haves’ are more aware, willing, and able to take part in supporting those agendas than ever before. That being said, the uses for these mobile technologies need not be so profound.

Cell phones may be used as tools for writing (Pertierra, 2005). Excellent examples of this are cellphone novels. Though most of it’s popularity comes from Japan, cellphone novels are a great way to create, distribute, and receive feedback on novels in microbursts. Those subscribing to a story can elect to read them on the internet, or have them sent via SMS text at varying intervals. This would be a great addition to the Whisperer’s Web portfolio. Being able to share the gossip that is created via SMS novels would allow for the gossip to spread, be immediately responded to, and allows for a whole different level of improvisation and socialmental connection to others in the group.

In my opinion, the really fantastic thing about portable media is the way it demolishes physical boundaries and pulls the world into a much smaller sphere. Connecting with people all over the world- listening to their plights, building foundations of trust based on universal truths, and greatly reducing the effects of prejudices- in order to accomplish anything the most creative person could dream up… it is something magical, motivating, and scary as hell.

References:

Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.

Pertierra,R. (2005). Mobile phones, identity, and discursive intimacy. HumanTechnology1(1), 23-44. Retrieved from: http://www.humantechnology.jyu.fi

Shirky, C. (2009). How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook make history [Web video]. TED Talks. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_iN_QubRs0

Wilson, P., & Stewart, M. (Eds.). (2008). Global indigenous media: Cultures, poetics, and politics. London: Duke University Press.

Collective Intelligence in Gaming

What collective intelligence looks like as a gamer

As Holland touched on, gaming is an area in which tangential learning has become something of a researcher’s playground. Barnett and Coulson (2010) sought to understand player interactions in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). They looked at factors such as socialization, transference of skills from virtual to real world applications, immersion, and group achievements. They note that MMOs have been used as tools for teaching, and players who develop social skills via gameplay (e.g., forming groups, effective communication, etc.) are able to then use those skills in out of game settings successfully. Specifically, with regards to collective intelligence, when a gamer gets onto a game, and comes away with skills such as socialization and effective team participation or leadership, that is a credit to the group as a whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

But it isn’t just MMOs that create this kind of tangential skill learning. First-person shooters (FPSs) also allow team coordination, the dissemination of knowledge between players, and real world applicability (Frostling-Henningsson, 2009). Players in this study reported feeling a greater variety of experiences (which they then share with other players… collective intelligence), and were found to be most motivated by the socialization and communication factors inherent in the game. Diane Carr (2011) found that gamers make game choices or have genre preferences based on their own experiences and the experiences others have shared with them. She calls it “peer culture”.

While these games typically don’t change much (some patches are created to accommodate game play or gamer preferences on the whole), people continue to play. In my experience as a game review, replayability is one of the most important factors, and typically the most replayable games are the ones that have a social component. Because, in games like League of Legends (my personal favorite MMO), the game is the same over and over, but the people you play with, the things you learn from them, the experiences you gain via the combinations of players/characters/teams, are what keep you coming back for more.

References:

Barnett, J., & Coulson, M. (2010). Virtually real: A psychological perspective on massively multiplayer online games. Review of General Psychology14(2), 167-179. doi: 10.1037/a0019442

Carr, D. (2011). Contexts, gaming pleasures, and gendered preferences. Simulation & Gaming36(4). 464-482. doi: 10.1177.1046878105282160

Frostling-Henningsson, M. (2009). First-person shooter games as a way of connecting to people: “Brothers in blood”. CyberPsychology & Behavior12(5), 557-562. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0345

Sing it with me… “Social media change AGENT MAN!”

In How to be a social media change agent (2008), interviewee Josh Bernoff provides insight and tips into how to integrate social media into the corporate world. He notes that anything that encourages people to connect with each other, and draws strengths from that connectivity, will generate success. Even if the success is initially small, by focusing on one brand or objective, businesses can create a foothold which may be elaborated on later.

Remembering that success is often measured monetarily, and that to some extent the monetary gain from social media is difficult to measure, the first step Bernoff encourages is finding someone high up in the organization (or with a lot of pull such as shareholders or an executive sponsor) to support the endeavor from the onset. Another important note emphasized in this interview, is the wisdom in starting right away. Engaging in forward momentum, and adjusting as needed throughout the process, creates more productivity than planning for a year or more, starting, and then finding out you were on the wrong track.

Bernoff also encourages comparing the accomplishments and attempts of others as a way of gauging what may or may not work for the company. Lee & Kotler  (2011) also encourage researching previous attempts, concurrent attempts, successes and failures where comparable to the marketing one is preparing for.  Similarly, Bernoff suggests making bonds and alliances with those in closely tied situations (i.e., endeavoring to bring a company onto the social media scene). As Frank Rose (2011) points out in Chapter 9, we are empathetic beings. Social media is not only a good venue for reaching those who share similar plights as we do, but it seems to me that making connections with those people may afford us the encouragement we need to continue fighting uphill battles.

Finally, Bernoff makes it clear that one of the most important steps in successful social media/business integration is a way to measure success. He relays the somewhat intuitive, but often overlooked note that being able to show evidence of gain, improves the changes that the program will continue to find support. Again, this is a notion that Lee & Kotler (2011) support.

In a post modern world, where connectivity and social media accessibility may mean the difference between success and failure, businesses are encouraged (and to some extent expected) to have an online footprint which allows a sense of comfort and communion from the consumers’ perspective. When individuals begin expecting that a company or business will be accessible by specific means, the company would do well to sit up and take notice.

References:

Harvard Business Publishing (Publisher). (2008). How to be a social media change agent [Webvideo]. Available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iB9Npo3qtH0

Lee, N., & Kotler, P. (2011) Social marketing: Influencing behaviors for good (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Rose, F. (2011). The art of immersion: How the digital generation is remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the way we tell stories. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.