Thursday, 27 March 2014

Digital Identities

There are many different digital identities available today; some are restrained than others whereas some reveal a persons personality extremely easily and effectively.

Facebook, for example, is one of the identities that is more restrained in that it now mainly consists of photos and does not reveal much about a persons identity, only what they have been doing. Although, there have been many incidents of 'catfishing' (based on the documentary), where people pretend to be somebody that they are not and therefore create a completely different identity than that of their own, or perhaps it is the identity that they wish they had.

Twitter is similar to Facebook in its ways of communication because it restrains a persons identity more than Tumblr, for example, but reveals it more than Facebook does. Twitter is very clever because it is a medium that allows a person to voice their thoughts and opinions as they would do in real life and are also able to connect with strangers from all over the world. This does not happen as much on Facebook, primarily because it is easier to find other people on Twitter. This move forward shows how the future of communication is based on the virtual world and that good friendships can be forged. (I know many people that have friends on Twitter that they have never actually met in real life.)

Tumblr is the most useful when trying to understand a persons identity or personality because it is such an open and non-judgemental space. Reblogging pictures, quotes and thoughts is the basis of Tumblr but it simply reveals so much about a person. Through Tumblr, communication with strangers is encouraged and because of this, a focus is placed more on the 'freedom of speech', therefore making a person feel that they can voice their thoughts and things that they perhaps cant say in the non-virtual world, with an emphasis again, on connecting with unknown people from all over the world. There are countless stories of couples that have met through Tumblr and this seems to be an extremely good way of communicating and meeting others. I believe that this is the most effective portrayal of identities because through Tumblr you can see into a persons real thoughts and perhaps the things that they are not brave enough to say, showing that this is not a changeable form of 'identity', but a persons real identity and indeed, their personality. As each user has to have a name, it is as if it creates the unrestrained alter ego that you wish you could be in real life.

Tumblr has a userbase of nearly 178 million blogs, showing that it is incredibly popular and what I believe to be the way forward. The way that is focuses on freedom and not having to hide allows you to communicate with others similar and with the same interests as you, creating an instantaneous link. Whereas Facebook is beginning to die out now, Tumblr is still on the rise and I think spaces that allow you to be your real self are the ones that are creating the most effective form of identity and are the future, telling us that Americans don't want to have to hide behind a socially acceptable identity anymore, but want to be able to be themselves and show that identity, proving that it is not in fact creating an identity that is important, but being able to show the one that you already have.


Digital Identity - YouTube

YouTube was created in 2005 by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim and bought by Google in 2006 for $1.6 Billion, it is based in California. It is a video sharing website which allows anyone in the world to post a video about anything in the world. The website is mainly used by individuals, but large corporations like BBC and ABC as well as music companies like Vevo also use it for uploading their content to allow users to view it more readily.

YouTube currently has more than 40,000 partners (users who get paid) with many making over $100,000 a year. All YouTube users upload roughly an hours worth of video every second. More than 3 Billion hours of video are watched every month and the majority of site visitors are from outside of the US.

Uniquely to YouTube is that it is able to be linked to other social media like Facebook and Twitter, which links to more than 500 YouTube videos every minute. It is also able to be embedded in websites meaning you don't have to go to its webpage to view its content. This means it is able to keep growing and expanding, meaning it is becoming ever more present in our lives.    

Digital Identity

There are many digital identities that are available to Americans, for example facebook, twitter, tumblr etc. These sites allow you to share personal info about you and your life or can be used as a forum to promote causes in which millions of people can connect and in a sense become your 'virtual friends'. These sites have allowed our world to become interconnected and we can be instantly up to date with the latest news. So in a way social network sites have managed to help America create a 'unified identity' as they are constantly aware with the issues in their society and have more chance of getting the message across.

 For future Americans the increase of technology is extremely important as their world will literally revolve around it. In terms of education there are already arguments that the way the children develop have changed and that education needs to be directed to these new patterns of thinking i.e. games that help you learn. In terms of job prospects everything is moving towards the internet and so the types of jobs could change. Therefore technology has changed Americans lives in the fact its more fast paced and social networking has helped with promoting issues and helping increase support in those - for example gay marriage.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Digital Identities - Twitter

One of the digital identities that are available in America is Twitter. It is a social media website that allows a person to expose their thoughts and what they are doing in their life's. Also the purpose of twitter is to see other peoples point of view. This is made clear by Twitter's slogan "Start a conversation, explore your interests, and be in the know." 

The role of followers and popularity plays a large role on Twitter. The more popular you are and well known you are the more followers you have. This, as a result, leads to some peoples view not being seen as much when compared to someone who is not a celebrity.  These imbalances on Twitter leads to some views being more credited, viewed and discussed when compared to others who may not be popular.
Because this is the case, there does seem to be a sort of fight for popularity. So rather than having writers, philosophers and lecturers having their say on important, interesting matters you are more likely to see a tweet by Justin Bieber saying how much he "loves his fans".

Popular people on Twitter seem to have the responsibility of portraying a certain character and perhaps having to melt down their true views and their personality. Therefore we see a social networking site with the most popular views being the views that are the least offensive or controversial. Because of this the people that go on Twitter are not necessarily "in the know" as Twitter proudly claims; instead the only thing that's known, to a degree, is the biggest superstars tour dates. There is an accidental censorship of controversial views on Twitter because of the importance of popularity on the site.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation argues in the opening paragraph of the website that what they are trying to enforce are traditional, American values that for that reason should be supported. So from that it is can be understood that what they believe Obamacare to be is un-American. They also believe that what they are promoting helps conserve old principles, which is likely to be a view that helps gain more support. The website, however, does in fact cover a range of topics and debates but does consider Obamacare a "hot topic".

  The website also has a focus on educating and informing the viewers of the website. They post videos and articles that support their ideas in order to add a perceived validity. Also the use of posting articles on the website helps to highlight the issues that they are informing us about are very much in the publics mind. Because it is shown to be a key issue in America people are more likely to be interested in what the website has to say.

Also the website argues that there is a growing impatience with Obamacsre and that it won't simply work and be accepted by Americans "Obamacare was pushed into law with the hope that the more Americans learned about it, the more they would like it. That has not happened." The website argues that Americans should pay for their own healthcare so they can be empowered. To this the website argues that costs should be reduced to help access be assured "Heritage’s Saving the American Dream proposal, that empowers patients, reduces costs, and ensures access."

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Obamacare opposal

The video is produced by a 'grassroots' political activists American for Progress. They believe in a limited government and that the individual states should make laws which reflect the needs of their people. This is why they oppose Obamacare as it is imposed upon people who did not vote for it or want it. The ad features the story of a woman named Tricia who is a cancer survivor and how she explains that having a supportive healthcare is extremely important. She implements the views of republicans that she feels imposed upon and the new system dehumanises people and she feels her family and herself are not in control of their healthcare. However, I feel that the video has an element of bias and hypocrisy as they reiterate that a healthcare system should be supportive, yet they are against making healthcare available for everyone and the finishing line is 'I want you to have the same' in regards to care. I can understand that the costs of insurance have gone up and that they are not able to choose the care that they want but there are Americans who have no access to healthcare and so their needs are not met which is inhumane. Therefore I cannot emphasise with these activists. is a campaign aimed at young people and showing them that alternatives to 'Obamacare' (Affordable Healthcare Act) are available. The scheme is run and paid for by Generation Opportunity, a non-partisan organisation, who describe themselves as a "free thinking, liberty loving, national organization of young people promoting the best of America: opportunity, creativity and freedom."

The campaign is aimed at young people and the website, although basic, has the main video of their message and the reasons why young people should opt out of 'Obamacare'. The advert is fairly short and set in a hospital and has a voice over stating the issues with the Affordable Healthcare Act, asking sarcastically was it the 'botched roll out' or the 'website crashing', the reason they give to the question 'why did our generation decide to opt out of Obamacare' was that they hadn't lost their minds and didn't want to pay an 'arm and a leg for a doomed government program'.

The advert itself is fairly poor, it states the 'botched roll out' and the 'website crashing' as two failures, but they are actually the same thing. Also they presume that 'our generation' has already opted out of 'Obamacare', which if true means there is no need for their campaign. At the end of the advert it states that their are alternatives, without actually giving any alternative suggestions. Overall, it doesn't persuade you to sign the petition below and from the numbers it states (16070) it doesn't seem to have persuaded many others.          

10 Reasons to Not Enroll in Obamacare

The aim of Obamacare (the Affordable Healthcare Act) is to provide affordable health insurance for Americans and to prevent rising health care caosts. Dr Elizabeth Lee Vliet has a very negative view of Obamacare and her top issues note not only how the insurance policies will actually be more expensive, but they will also limit the choice of doctors and hospitals that are available to Americans (with some of the countries leading cancer hospitals being cut off to those under the Act).

The other issues being about that of privacy. Of the pieces that I have read on Obamacare, Dr Vliet was the first to write about the loss of privacy that Americans will face; ranging from medical privacy, the risk of identity theft as most of the 'Obamacare navigators' have criminal backgrounds and how the policy could potentially compromise the Second Amendment right (as everybody is entitled to own a gun) but the database collects information about gun ownership.
Additionally, it is virtually impossible to cancel their plan if a person were to find a better one.

What is interesting is that Dr Vliet seems to be more concerned with the lack of privacy that comes with Obamacare as opposed to the decline in healthcare options that it provides. As a doctor, patient care should be at the top of her priorities and no doubt it is, but by concentrating more on the privacy issues, she seems to skim over the fact that doctors and hospitals are immediately closed off because of Obamacare. I understand how the lack of privacy is of concern to her, but in a world where this is becoming the norm, I don't think having personal information on yet another database is going to make much of a difference. However, I do understand her anger at a large number of doctors and hospitals being closed off because Obamacare is surely fighting for universal healthcare and even if it achieves this, it is still elitist in the doctors and hospitals that it sends people to.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

'The Glass Castle' Presentation

Presentation outline:

  • Beginning by outlining the differences between their poverty stricken life in the desert and their more middle class life in Phoenix and the problems that these two contrasts give them
  • Discussing how Jeannette's Dad always struggles with their easier life in Phoenix and refuses to give in to the conformist society that they have now joined - he believes hard work is the key and perhaps desires it more here

  • Seeing the Dad that thrives in his desert surroundings and is the fun, respectable, caring, affectionate, (mainly) sober father figure that Jeannette needs, but how this shows her mother to be lazy as she has a degree but is failing to work for her family's needs
  • How their lack of success highlights their physical poverty, but they rarely suffer an emotional poverty (i.e. having a lack of something) as they are a happy, close-knit, caring family unit
    But drawing on Jeannette's parents inability to provide them with the stability that they need

  • The physical poverty is absent when they move to their mansion style house in Phoenix but a sense of emotional poverty foregrounds the events
  • Her Dad becomes an alcoholic again because he struggles with his higher position in society and perhaps feels misplaced or as if he is living a lie
  • 'Figuring out how to swim' - the chances that America gives and how her Dad has reached rock bottom (therefore turning to alcoholism and learning to 'swim' without alcohol)
  • The Grand Canyon roadtrip is a mark of their new conventionalist status in society
  • But having to hitchhike with a rich, middle class lady makes him realise how he can take care of his family in his home of the desert (shown by the way that he revels in the freedom of the open road and speeds) but cannot in the new, troubling society
  • Jeannette suffers from an emotional poverty seeing her father turn back to alcohol after he promised her sobriety for her birthday and 'the glass castle' becomes a metaphor for all of his empty promises that he never fulfils (i.e. she can almost see through to the other side but the walls always stop her and her father from getting their better life)
  • Beginning of novel in New York - she can't escape her past as she sees her mother and is using her middle class life to cover her past but even then, still has dysfunctional family ties

  • The novel shows America and Jeannette's story as a family driven place and how material success doesn't always prevent poverty or emotional security

Jocelyn Bartkevicius Review

  The journal/review begins with outlining the horrific circumstances that Walls was put through. How her "familial drawbacks" could have led to having an unbalanced view that would not have depicted the vast, upsetting setbacks that being born into a broken family has had on her. Instead it says how the story "manages to ring true" even though circumstances could have led to a completely different account. It also outlines the confusion that the child would have felt, which makes the honesty and the  balance of the book even more remarkable.

  It too discusses that the horrific burns that young girl suffered came out of hunger, desperation and lack of attention from her parents. We also feel a greater level of empathy due to the girls innocence being discussed, which was said about in the article. The article is keen to argue that it's almost symbolic for how important parents must there to protect or else. 

  The article also says how the author does fully immerse herself with the feelings of pain both physically and mentally of living in poverty. Perhaps because of this the article is, to a degree, reserved in proclaiming this book to be an interesting, worthwhile  read into the depiction of poverty, as we not given the full account of the pain and suffering that Walls went through. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Glass Castle Review

This review was published in the New York Times in March 2005, the same year as the book. It starts off by talking a bit about the book, giving the basic outline of the story and how the title gives the backdrop to the hope and ultimate failure of the characters in the story. Francine Prose, the reviewer, then goes on to talk about the characters, particularly the parents Rex and Rose Mary Walls. Prose talks about Rex's struggles with alcohol and the impact of his inability to hold down a job has on the family and how the nomadic lifestyle means the kids grow up quicker, giving the example of Jeanette being able to handle a gun by the age of 4. Prose chronicles the tragedies beset on the Walls children such as the time Jeanette was severely burnt at the age of 3 to the time Lori was bitten by a scorpion and experienced convulsions and the time Brian was molested in West Virgina by his grandmother.

The reviewer then goes on to reflect on the authors ability to write in such detail and how she seems able to detach herself from the story, giving praise to her for not psycho analysing her situation through reflection. Prose finishes the review off by calling The Glass Castle a 'very good memoir' and saying that Walls describes her literary tastes as being stories of hardship and that The Glass Castle would be a book Jeanette Walls would like to read herself, which is something most writers set out to do. 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Bria and Chrissy

Bria and Chrissy are an American lesbian couple that also use music to spread the message of LGBT equality and their song 'Too Cute to be Gay' shows the problems that lesbians face with the issue of stereotypes. With femme visibility within the lesbian community on the rise, they show how people often fail to see them as gay because they don't fit the traditional stereotype, which luckily does not really exist anymore. People presume that having a feminine appearance means that they can't be gay but Bria and Chrissy show that this is not true. Although femme visibility helps to defy the stereotype, some hold the opinion that lesbians are trying to use a heterosexual appearance in order to hide their homosexuality, but what it in fact shows is that somebody's sexuality does not have to be at the forefront of their appearance and identity if they choose it not to be.
Something that is also evident from their videos is that they are just an ordinary couple. They show that being a lesbian couple doesn't make them any different from heterosexual couples and this is something that society needs to realise. There is a collection of lesbian couples on youtube, ranging from Cydney and Stacy to Whitney and Megan to Kaelyn and Lucy (the latter two stemming from long distance relationships), and they are feminine lesbians, which not only helps to defy the stereotype more, but all of these couples also demonstrate their normality. Kaelyn and Lucy are so normal in fact (something which society wouldn't necessarily expect because lesbian and gay couples are always pinpointed as different whether the fact is true or not) that they call themselves 'boring' because they're so normal.

Bria and Chrissy

                                              Whitney and Megan and Kaelyn and Lucy

"Support Gay Marriage! Equal Rights!"

The video that I have chosen discusses a range of issues that are the concern of the gay community in America. It is revolved around gaining the right to marriage and what they will mean to the gay community.

The video discusses things such as not feeling ostracised from the community in which they live in if they gain the right to get married and that they will be able to express their own individuality. Also that they will gain a sense of belief and confidence in who they are and should not feel ashamed because of a law that implements what they call "hatred". They are willing to single out the government as there laws imply that being gay is wrong, if the laws they make state marriage is not allowed so makes it normal for gay people to be frowned upon.

There is a sense that the people who made this video recognise the fear of resentment they would get from others who are not open to who they want to be and who they are. Also they are keen to tell the people who are watching the video to be proactive and make an effort to change the laws with a degree of immediacy.

Also once these laws have been passed they will make a change that will last for "eternity". So makes the idea of being proactive, when it comes to changing the gay marriage laws, as being something that would truly change the society Americans live in and therefore the concept could be believed to appear more appealing.

Issues with Identity

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David Hauslaib is an editor of Jossip which is a blog. He teams up with the Big Think youtube to talk about issues facing the gay community. This video was made in 2008 but it appears the issues are the same in 2014. He talks that the main issue is equality, mostly in marriage and the workplace and healthcare. He mentions that a problem with being identified as gay is that you have to be 'tolerated' which in itself is demeaning. This idea of being tolerated is not being treated as equal as the assumption of being equal is that it is a natural and should be accepted. And so this issue of equality and acceptance is still problematic as marriage is legal in 17/50 states and so reflects that there is a long way to go before the equality of marriage is apparent.

This video by, a website formed in 2010 by two gay rights activism groups, shows the reactions of the people gathered at the Stonewall Inn awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court. The gathering was organised by United for Marriage Coalition and was either going to be a celebration or a protest of the Supreme court ruling in June 2013. The ruling came down in favour of gay marriage and this video has people expressing their joy about the ruling and how it has and will affect them. The issues raised in the video are generally about what the decision means for the direction of gay rights activism in America, such as employment, youth issues, transgender rights and poverty and the realisation that the work has not been completed.