Don’t Like This Post? Keep It to Yourself!

Another presidential election cycle is upon us, and the mudslinging, name calling, and outright rudeness is reaching new heights. Today, candidates are using the digital frontier to extend the reach of their campaigns, connect with supporters – and broadcast their anger and venom to new levels.kid

While Republican nomination-seeker Donald Trump is often at the center of name-calling exchanges with his opponents, society has been on a clear path toward greater language impropriety since long before he declared his candidacy. The use of swear words and crude speech in the public sphere has been on the rise for centuries, as Melissa Mohr documents in a 2013 Salon article. Bit by bit, once-shocking words have become more socially acceptable.

What’s novel about the 21st century is that emerging media gives our basest instincts a borderless outlet. Crudeness spreads quickly, festers, and invites more people – from celebrities to ordinary citizens – to join the conversation. Three factors make this environment so fertile:

  1. Online forums enable free, unedited expression. Emerging media are hailed for their capacity to empower the individual. Comment on that article you’ve just read or share the latest news story with your Facebook friends – let your voice be heard! Pauline Wallin, in a blog for the Society for Media Psychology & Technology, cites the ease of replying to online material instantly as one accelerant of digital rudeness. Because it’s so simple to post what we think, a person can readily give in to emotional impulse and say online what they might never say in a face-to-face conversation.
  2. Discourtesy loves company. Users who fire their internal editor aren’t likely to encounter external censors, either. On the contrary, online communities of like-minded individuals develop easily, with people encouraging one another and fueling the heat of debate, language be damned. Social networking sites are, by definition, communities of individuals who share connections with one another. Sometimes those connections are as unsophisticated as a tendency toward vulgarity.
  3. Anonymity is a two-way street. Scroll through the comments section of a web page and you’re likely to see users who cloak their identities in digital anonymity. Using a pseudonym is the easiest way to shield oneself from being accountable for online rudeness. But the impersonal nature of online communications can also lie at the heart of what’s prompting that rudeness. Art Markman, psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told one writer that the distance imposed by the computer screen makes it easier to get angry at what one reads. “People tend to antagonize distant abstractions more easily than living, breathing interlocutors,” he explains. In addition, he says, it’s simply “easier to be nasty in writing than in speech.”

Where does all this insolence end? New technologies do not change human nature; they merely give our basest instincts a different outlet. Unless we find a way to rewire some of those instincts, the derision is likely to endure far beyond the November election.

Paula Moore @pemberley_manor

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University


Cirilli, Kevin. “Trump Repeats Vulgar Audience Taunt Used to Describe Cruz,” Bloomberg Politics. February 8, 2016.

Ellison, N. B. & boyd, d. (2013). “Sociality through Social Network Sites.” In Dutton, W. H. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 151-172.

Mohr, Melissa. “The Modern History of Swearing:  Where All the Dirtiest Words Come From,” Salon. May 11, 2013.

Wallin, Pauline. “People Post Things Online That Most Would Never Say to Someone Face to Face.” Society for Media Psychology & Technology. October 2012.

Wolchover, Natalie. “Why Is Everyone on the Internet So Angry?”, LiveScience. July 25, 2012,

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Gone WaX!

Spring Break 2016 began like most others with students excited about being off from school and traveling to other cities to sight see and or just relax.  Washington, DC is always a great place to visit, with all the history, monuments, museums, parks, Cherry Blossoms and people from all over the world.  Despite the craziness of the world, people are still venturing out and traveling. green room.png

One of the coolest Museums that you don’t want to by-pass or pass-by is the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum located at 1001 F st. in Washington, DC.  The attraction opened in 2007 and features real look-a-like wax sculptures of famous figures from politics, culture, sports, music, and television.  The musuem features all of our presidents and some of their famous wives.

As I purused the museum, I expected to see everything that was advertised, I knew or at least heard of some of the look-a-like sculptures, but as I was exited the museum their was one exhibit that caught my eye.  Two young men pushing and tugging at each other.  Who are they? I wasn’t alone, as many of the on lookers asked the same questions that I had – Who is or what is “SMOSH?”                                                          

As I read the signed affixed beside the sculpture, I came to understand the significance of this team.  The online comedy duo ‘Smosh’ – Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, long-time school friends, took the internet by storm in 2005 – becoming one of the first Youtube sensations.  green room sign.png

According to Tech Insider, the two claimed over 7 billion views across six YouTube channels on more than 3,000 videos. Their original Smosh channel is currently the fourth most popular YouTube channel. An original site,, launched in 2002, averages 30 million monthly unique page views. Hecox and Padilla, now both 27, even have their own film, “Smosh: The Movie,” which recently premiered at VidCon in Anaheim, California and is available on video on demand

What started out as child’s play is now the #5 in the 25 highest paid YouTube stars, worth over $6M, with 4.5B views –

SMOOSH has not only Gone Viral, they’ve Gone WAX!

“I’m going to wish for something, to become famous on YouTube for absolutely having no talent, except good hair.” – Ian Hecox


Cherry A. Maxwell @CMSgtMaxwell

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University


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How Black Twitter Exemplifies the Strength of an Imagined Community

As we all know, social media has become a seemingly-essential part of society and our everyday lives. Described as a “micro-blogging” platform, Twitter revolutionized online communications by blurring the lines between interpersonal and mass communication. As social media scholar Danah Boyd explained, sites such as Twitter serve as networked publics; “the space constructed through networked technologies and the imagined community emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice.” Imagined communities are not exclusive to Twitter; the Internet has always enabled people to identify under a shared group identity without coming into physical contact or knowing the rest of the group.

In recent years, “Black Twitter” has been an increasingly popular phrase. Nearly gone are the days when people would ask, “is that different from Twitter? Is it a different app?” Black Twitter is just one of the many imagined communities active on the social media platform. It does not represent all black people but it does extend beyond the United States. Mark Luckie, Twitter’s former Manager of Journalism and News, describes it as a “loose network of people that are discussing African-American-related issues, both newsy and fun.” Black Twitter

From #PopeBars to #ThanksgivingClapback to #AskRachel, some of the most humorous trending topics can be traced back to Black Twitter. Besides humorous takes on society and pop culture, the imagined community has proven that hashtag activism is more than just a digital version of “slacktivism.” The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag gave birth to a full-blown political movement with influence in the 2016 presidential race.  Without Twitter, the mobilization and coordination of protests around the nation would have been difficult.


Source: Black Lives Matter

In January 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came under heavy fire for the lack of diversity among the nominees for the Academy Awards, as critically acclaimed films like Creed and Beasts of No Nation were missing. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag sparked a national conversation about the kind of roles available to actors of color. Within a few weeks, the Academy’s Board of Governors unanimously approved “a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse.”

Within imagined communities on social media, there is a form of affirmation, as individuals realize that they can relate to the experiences of others. This affirmation within certain communities results in amplifying the marginalized voices around, resulting in social change.

Tobi Mobolurin @oomobolurin

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University



Works Cited:

  1. Boyd, Danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Print.
  2. About – Today in #BlackTwitter.” Today in BlackTwitter. Mark Luckie,. Web.
  3. “ACADEMY TAKES HISTORIC ACTION TO INCREASE DIVERSITY.”org. Academy of Motion Picture Films and Sciences, 22 Jan. 2016..
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It’s a Monday night in 1963…

It’s a Monday night in 1963.  You sit down to watch TV and put on ABC.   You are presented with a black screen with a white glowing dot in the middle.

black dot.png

A deep voice intones:

“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to — The Outer Limits”

I remember as a kid watching the sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits (re-runs, that is…I’m not quite that old) and I distinctly remember being frightened by that voice…by those words…the idea that I was no longer in control of my television and perhaps no longer in control of my life.

Yesterday, we crossed into the outer limits when Google clearly demonstrated just how in control they are – and by extension, just how much control emerging media companies have of our lives.   In 2014, Google acquired smart-home company Revolv, maker of home-control devices powered by the Revolv Hub.   And yesterday, they announced that they’re killing it.   Not just killing the company, mind you – Google is reaching into the living room of everyone that purchased the Revolv hub and literally killing the device.   It doesn’t matter that it’s your device.  It doesn’t matter that you paid money for it.   Google isn’t offering to let it keep running and simply not support it – they’re bricking the device, rendering it useless.  The warranty is expired on these devices and so Google has no obligation to the purchaser.  Oh and by the way, you agreed to this.  When you registered your device.  Surely you read all the fine print before you clicked “accept”, right?

Why is Google doing this?  Because the Revolv no longer matches Google’s smart-home plans and they are abandoning the device – and the people who purchased it – in favor of technology from Nest, another company Google purchased.

As Cory Doctorow said on the website BoingBoing “This isn’t the earthquake, it’s the tremor. From your car to your light-bulbs to your pacemaker, the gadgets you own are increasingly based on networked software. Remove the software and they become inert e-waste.”   And provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act lets many companies retain the rights to the software that powers your devices – which gives them the right to reach into your home and do anything they want with the devices you’ve paid for.

It’s a reminder that we are all linked, we are all inextricably intertwined with the technology and emerging media all around us.   Facebook and Twitter have no obligation to you to continue to maintain your pages and tweets, if they decide to shut down this part of their service in favor of another.   All those memories you have on Facebook, all of those memories, all of those connections – they can be gone tomorrow if Facebook decides to change its business model.  The sum total of what they owe you is zero – especially since they’re services you’re not paying for.

The frightening thing, as in the case of Revolv and Google, is that it can happen with devices and services you actually do pay for.

So sit quietly and watch, folks.  You’re not in control any more.  Welcome to the outer limits.

Bill Margol

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University


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The Dark Side of Viral Videos


In recent trend of social media, viral videos have become an international sensation. From my own perspective, people rave over these videos because they connect with their inner-emotions and make them feel better about themselves. Take Sloan for example (video below), an individual who was born deaf and finally received hearing at the age of 29 through the Cochlear implant (CI). While this is a heartwarming video that can brighten the day of many, it’s important to acknowledge those who don’t qualify for the CI. As a recipient who have recently gotten my own Cochlear implant turned on, I did a decent amount of research and stumbled upon an article, written by Lilit Marcus, concerning Deaf people (with the capital D). Marcus encourages people to inhibit the amount of viral videos since they have an unfavorable effect on some people.

People who are Deaf are diagnosed with a hearing disability where the disability heavily influences their political and cultural standpoint in life. In Marcus’ article, she explains the negative side of viral videos: “…viral videos aren’t about the people who are in them, they’re about the people who watch them.” While many Deaf people are stumbling upon these CI turn-on videos, they’re feeling negative emotions rather than positive. This is due to the stereotype that CI “cures” the hearing disability. Which it actually doesn’t, it just enhances the hearing significantly. So not only do Deaf people feel stereotyped in seeing these videos, but they also feel left out since most of them do not qualify to have the CI. Although Marcus is incorrect on a small detail where only hearing-born adult and deaf infants, up to the age 5, can acquire CIs. The spectrum of who qualifies for the procedure is quite exhaustive.

When it comes to assessing the norms and patterns of the media, it is important for thought leaders to analyze not only the positive effects but also the negatives. Up to the point of finding Marcus’ article, I personally thought that getting the CI turned on was a beacon of hope for everyone who is deaf and Deaf. The viral phenomenon offers excellent ways for people to witness miracles, but there are others who are not able to relate to them.

Connor Ames @jcames14

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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Twitter the newest social networking site to introduce algorithms

How many people get on Facebook, and immediately start liking different things on your News Feed that peak your interest? Then you notice the next day that the page you liked the previous day has post up and down your News Feed. I experienced this today when I liked my friends’ posting about her first day working for Google. Now on my News Feed I have post that relates to all things Google.


In an effort to design our social media pages with more of the things we want to see and know about, and less of the things we don’t like or care about; social media platforms have created algorithms.

Algorithms – “A process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer”.

On sites like Facebook, Flipboard, Pinterest and some other sites the content that shows up in an individual’s News Feed is dictated by an algorithm. If someone Likes your Page or befriends you with a Friend Request you’ve simply started the first steps in creating algorithms for your News Feed as well as theirs.

There are 4 factors that determine what these social media platforms take into consideration when determining what algorithms users will see on their pages and News Feeds. These 4 factors include:

  • Type of Interaction (liking, commenting, or sharing; each of the three interactions has its own weight depending on the amount of effort it takes to perform the interaction)
  • Who made the interaction (how directly connected the user is to the poster based on manual friendship designations, closeness inferred by interaction, and other factors)
  • What time the post was made (time decay; News Feed deserves freshness)
  • Post popularity (if a post is losing the freshness edge because of time decay, but lots of people are still actively commenting on or sharing a post the engagement can trigger a hot topic bump [my name for it, not Facebook’s] that expands the post reach rather than letting it die)


Other social media platforms have recently caught onto this trend; Twitter being the most recent. Twitter released back in February their plans to add an algorithm component to their timeline. Unlike Facebook and Instagram where you can choose exactly the things you like to show up on your News Feed, whether it’s “Top Stories”, or post that you “Most Recently” liked. Twitter will choose for you the things that most people want to see, according to the people/ pages an individual follows (Whatever is most popular at that time).

However, some people argue that these algorithmic filters have completely altered the way in which we interact with the digital world, and to a certain extent I would have to agree, now that interaction is lacking in a major way and for some people it’s completely gone. Many companies are tailoring everything to our individual personalities, even down to simply things like words or our favorite colors. Eli Pariser who held a TED Talk conference warning social media users to beware of what he deems as “Filter Bubbles”. He explains that without the key component of embedded ethics, we as humans lose our sense of reality, which a machine (algorithm computer) simply cannot possess.

As social media users we risk living in a never-ending cycle of our comfort zones. Although a large majority of Twitter users don’t like the idea of the algorithm, there’s another majority who do, or are looking forward to experiencing these algorithms on Twitter for the first time. The idea is that since Twitter is a smaller platform for users that don’t really use it, i.e. Facebook users, the algorithm component will give them the best topics and stories to see on Twitter, with the hopes of converting them into repeat users of the site. I like the idea of the algorithm component on Twitter, especially since I’m a new user, however I believe that we as consumers need to lean into the discomfort of difficult topics, and start to have discussions surrounding them. Let’s face it, digitally, companies are relentlessly and purposefully catering to our every need, which could ultimately cause a demise in the digital world as well as in reality.

Jacqueline Miller @LoyolaGrad18 

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University

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New Changes Coming to Instagram ¾ Things users should know

Several people seem to be very upset about the new changes that are coming to Instagram. Instagram is a very popular social media site, well known for selfie’s and other forms of pictures. On March 15th, the company made an announcement that they will be releasing new changes to the popular news feed. (CNN Money)

Currently, users are able to view photos in reverse chronological order. They plan on changing it to more of a “algorithm-based” feed. This would provide users with the “most relevant” content to first. Well known celebrities, models and, entertainers are speaking out against this change. I could only assume how this will effect their information effectively reaching their fans. Recently John Mayer posted on Instagram, “My taste, interest and curiosities change everyday; if I’m not even sure what’s relevant to me, how will you know?” John Mayer poses a very good question. How will Instagram determine what’s most relevant to each user? (CNN Money) John

For those worrying when these changes will occur, Instagram has stated that,” they have several weeks or even months of testing to go.” So, users will be made fully aware of any changes that occur. Currently, celebrities are also posting several images pointing to the right to have followers turn on the notifications for their accounts. (NY Times)

I believe that this change could definitely effect the amount of users on Instagram in the future. Currently, it’s being tested on 400 million monthly users. Instagram claims that they are making this change because users miss 70% of what users post so, if someone isn’t an active user of Instagram in their eyes this could help improve their experience. (USA Today)

Celebrities aren’t the only ones speaking up on this matter, several individuals are coming forward with post on Instagram saying they dislike the application on Twitter or also, asking their followers to turn on their notifications to see their photos. I can only hope that Instagram will change their minds on this drastic change. (TIME)

Nicolette Black @nvblack08

Emerging Media Graduate Student

Loyola University



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