The point(lessness) of political arguments on Facebook

The point(lessness) of political arguments on Facebook

2016 has been the most politically divisive year I’ve witnessed. Scandals break daily that beg us to respond on social media. These “breaking” stories often evoke festering anger, driving us to rant or plead to the public to see the obvious. Our logical appeals can turn emotional, harming and sometimes severing ties.

I wanted to investigate this issue, so I took to Facebook to ask my 357 friends if these types of political posts and arguments had an impact on the way they used social media.

Three people responded.

I realize I’m not a lightning rod of political discourse like many of my friends, but I was still surprised to see how few commented, especially considering that 76 people liked the picture of me and my son shared a few minutes before.

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Let’s Make This Go Viral, Dawg!

Let’s Make This Go Viral, Dawg!

Everyone getting started on YouTube has lofty aspirations, hoop dreams, that his/her video is going to be the next sensation, the next “Chocolate Rain” or Chewbacca Mom, or kid getting taken home from the dentist babbling nonsense. It seems so easy, and many of the most popular videos are effortless. Why couldn’t I do that?

I recently read a wonderful book that delves into this topic called Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. The book makes clear that going viral is not easy, but it also offers insight into the reasons why certain videos do. After I read the book, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at creating a viral video. And all the while, I wondered if doing so was ethical.

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The Ethics of Snark in Comments Sections

The Ethics of Snark in Comments Sections

Snark attempts to steal someone’s mojo, erase her cool, annihilate her effectiveness with the nasty, insidious, rug-pulling, teasing insult, which makes reference to some generally understood shared prejudice or distaste.”

–David Denby: Snark: It’s Mean, It’s Personal, and It’s Ruining Our Conversation

I have a guilty displeasure: reading the comments section of Chicago’s online newspaper DNA Info. The comments following any article regarding Chicago Public Schools get my goat, as they’d get the goat of any CPS teacher. The Peanut Gallery giddily rips apart the intelligence of teachers and students alike, unaware of any reality that goes on inside the schools.

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Sky Ferreira–is she more than a racy photo?

Sky Ferreira–is she more than a racy photo?

Ladies, what the fuck. We are (Lord willing) mere months away from finally having the first woman president. National female voices like Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren and Ruth Bader Ginsburg appear stronger than ever. At the same time, personality journalism appears to be gazing longingly backwards toward an era full of Playboy bunnies and Stepford wives.

from AV Club’s July 8th article “Stop jizzing all over journalism”

I’m often made fun of for my loyalty to early 90s musicians, but I feel grateful for being a teenager during an era of rebellious empowerment. The female musicians of that era taught me more than how to write a song–they introduced the struggles and triumphs women face in society. Through their coarse and direct lyrics, musicians such as Polly Jean Harvey, Kim Gordon, and the women of L7 allowed my malleable teenage brain to resist the “jocko-homo” persuasions of my peers and instead understand and empathize.

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Mark Hughes’ story: We went from being good samaritans to suspects

Mark Hughes’ story: We went from being good samaritans to suspects

So, the pair left the gun—and Mark’s shirt, which the police refused to give back—and walked away. They were never read their Miranda rights, though both were detained. They were interrogated even after both invoked the right to counsel. They walked away to jeers from policemen. And when they asked that the police take down the tweet, or at least correct it, they were declined.

from “Falsely Accused, Dallas ‘Suspect’ Now Fears for His Life” Time Magazine, July 9, 2016

Like most of us around the country, I watched the Dallas shooting rampage unfold live on television and Twitter. And like most Americans, I had one question on my mind: Who did this? I wanted a face to match to the carnage, a gender, a race, a motivation. Much like in Orlando less than a month before, I couldn’t put a narrative to the story without an identified attacker.

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The ethics of filming a fist fight

The ethics of filming a fist fight

It’s not the beatdowns themselves that make World Star so disturbing; it’s how they get there. We are all videographers now, and bystanders now do the work of media outlets, and for free.

from “World Star Hip-hop: making a bankable brand out of brutality”

The Guardian, October 18, 2012

I could imagine the adrenaline rush if it happened to me–one minute, I’m casually enjoying an outdoor concert, filming a clip of my favorite song, when two rows ahead of me, a scuffle breaks out. I’ve always had two eyes, but now I have three–the eye of the camera. I know I won’t look away from the fight, but will I turn the camera off? Could I consciously will myself to ignore the action?

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Lost in the Habit

Lost in the Habit

Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings, but we’re often not conscious of the urges driving our habits in the first place.

–Charles Duhigg, from “How Companies Learn Your Secrets”

I was busier than I’d ever been. Busier than anyone had ever been. Ever.

How busy? Well, I worked full time as the only journalism teacher at my high school, which meant planning all the courses, learning video equipment that had way too many buttons, and hopefully maintaining an online presence that provided good press for the school. I also was taking two Masters classes that proved much more challenging than expected–a geezer trying to figure his way around the old interwebs.

Just in case that wasn’t enough, my wife and I had a baby in the middle of it. Though my boy’s provided only joy in my busy schedule, the stress of not getting to spend every waking moment with him drained me. Read More

Author Nickolas Butler Burns Bright

Author Nickolas Butler Burns Bright

America, I think, is about poor people playing music and poor people sharing food and poor people dancing, even when everything else in their lives is so desperate, and so dismal that it doesn’t seem that there should be any room for any music, any extra food, or any extra energy for dancing. And people can say that I’m wrong, that we’re a puritanical people, an evangelical people, a selfish people, but I don’t believe that. I don’t want to believe that.

–from Shotgun Lovesongs

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