every once in awhile, remove

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I guess it was almost two years ago when I first came across Eric Pickersgill’s series of photographs, Removed. I remember it clearly: I was sitting in a big lecture hall at the Sorbonne, waiting for my terrifying Parisian Film professor to begin his 3-hour lecture.

Once we started discussing the work of Brian De Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, and others, the photographs disappeared from my mind. That is, until one day last semester while working on a project in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Emory Hospital Midtown.

Surrounded by incubators and the tiniest of newborn babies, one of the doctors with whom I was working explained how he consistently has to encourage parents and family to actually interact with their babies?

I didn’t quite understand, and indicated that he should go on in further detail. The reason, Dr. Sexson said, is because people have become so attached (if not addicted) to their phones that they forget where they are and why.

Emory Midtown NICU.JPGStudies have found that speaking and singing to, cuddling, and just loving premature infants do so much in the formative weeks and months that these little fighters spend at Emory Midtown and NICUs across the world. But these actions continue to have an impact on the babies once they make it home⎯ as they grow into toddlers and young adults and eventually have their own children.

Despite the doctor’s pleadings, Sexson notices increasing numbers of new mothers who are more interested in their phones than with their babies.

As soon as I heard this, I was completely deflated. Honestly, just seeing the little newborns was moving and heart-wrenching in itself. But this took my emotions to a new level. I couldn’t help but look at technology in a new light.

I mean what on Earth⎯ or in the palms of our hands⎯ could be more important than these bundles of joy, who need and deserve nothing but love and attention?

That’s when I thought of Removed, and did a little more research on the series of photos I hadn’t thought about for a year. Almost every major newspaper, magazine and website⎯ our friends at Wired, but also The Atlantic, Fast Company, and so many more⎯ had covered Pickersgill’s work. He even has his own TED talk, “Do Our Devices Divide Us?”

Artist and Photographer“We are hopelessly hooked,” Jacob Weisberg of The Slate Group wrote in one review.

“You’re so accustomed to everyone holding a phone, you might not even notice they’re missing,” said another reviewer.

The more I think about it, the truer it all sounds.

I call to mind Kathleen’s final project. When she went off the grid for just a day or two, her life went up in flames. Her parents freaked, she missed class, and just felt totally out of it.

The other day my friend, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, told me what she thought was a funny story. Cooped up at the library in efforts to get schoolwork done, she put her phone away. She didn’t think anyone needed to call or beep her.
Her mom texted her, and of course got no response. So her mom texted her again. 30, 40 minutes went by and there was no word from Liza. 
Her mom— although this might sound like a joke, it is not and I can provide proof—  back home in Chicago started panicking. She realized what the problem was: Liza had been abducted.
She proceeded to notify her daughter’s roomie, informing her she had not been in touch with Liza for an hour. And I kid you not, sent the words “Acking tray own-phay” to her daughter with the hope that her abductor would not understand.
For those of us who do not use Pig Latin in everyday life, this means “tracking phone.”
 
At this point, Liza decided to take a study break. When she stepped outside, she noticed numerous calls and text messages. She proceeded to inform her mother and worried friends that she was, in fact, fine. 
 
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If this chain of events is what takes place every time we step away from our devices and unplug, no one will choose do it. And rightfully so. I do not want to worry my mother into sending me cryptic Pig Latin messages more than anyone else.  

What I’m trying to get at here is this: our connections today are limitless. We are perpetually contact-able and “always-on.”

Technology affords us (I see you Janet Murray!) proof that, no matter where we find ourselves and what time of day it is, we can reach anyone in a fraction of a second. And not just through telephone calls, but also with videos, pictures, Snaps, Facebook Live, you name it. 

So if I told you that in spite of all these awesome technologies and new ways of staying in touch, Americans are becoming lonelier and lonelier, you might not believe me.

And with good reason. Compared to every era before this, getting in touch with someone has never been easier or more effortless. The hardest part might actually be choosing which app, platform or website you want to use.

Stephen Marche of The Atlantic says it well, “In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actually society.”

Sociologists out of Duke have done multiple studies looking at “nationally representative data on the confidants with whom Americans discuss important matters.” What they’ve found is that 24.6% of all Americans report having no confidants.

That’s one in four Americans.

Another 19.6% say they have one confidant.

Stop and take that in. If that sounds terrifying, it’s because it is. A little less than half of America has at most 1 person with whom they can really talk and let it out.

Why is this so? ask the researchers. They didn’t explicitly set out to find the answer, but made a few guesses. Longer work days and commutes are among those listed. But I’m most intrigued by the third hypothesis: novel ways of communicating thanks to technology.

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New technology, people like Jay Rosen understand, places the ball in our courts. These days, those who were formerly the audience are in charge of “publishing and broadcasting ourselves when it meets a need or sounds like fun.”

And guess what, very few of us choose to click share when we’re at the library studying or having a bad day😔.

Liz Hoggard of The Telegraph just the other day wrote, “On paper my life sounds glamorous. My Facebook and Twitter updates show evenings spent at film premieres and West End first nights.”

That’s just it. Online communication and everything we do through our devices is so alluring because it’s artificial.

Sherry Turkle, psychologist and professor at MIT wrote in a 2012 New York Times opinion piece, “Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little — just right.”

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We have a huge problem though, and John Cacioppo at the University of Chicago, the leading expert on loneliness, is the first to admit it.

In an age when everyone is so concerned with appearances and generating the perfect self-image, no one wants to admit they are lonely or have humdrum days, weeks or months.

Especially when all of their so-called friends appear to be having the times of their lives, according to Insta and Snapchat.

“Admitting you are lonely is like holding a big L up on your forehead,” says Cacioppo himself. His research has found that “when you’re lonely, your whole body’s lonely.” Social isolation, as it has come to be called, impairs our immune systems and bolsters inflammation.
Loneliness, Cacioppo has found, is about 2x as dangerous as obesity.
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Now, don’t get me wrong. I think technology is great. I’d go so far as to say it’s magical.

When I graduate in just over a week, it’s social media that will allow me to stay in touch with friends and professors. Technology will facilitate the upkeep of all the bonds I’ve formed during my time at Emory.

I just think that like everything in life, we need to use it with moderation.

I’m with Turkle, who urges us all to “reclaim conversation.” Face-to-face conversation, that is. It’s why I created the series of images at the top of this page.

Throughout the past few weeks, whenever I’ve come across a friend or other young people so absorbed in their phones, I’ve asked to take a photo of them staring blankly at their hands as if the device were still there.

Everyone I’ve asked initially seems quite confused by my request.

When I’m with these friends for a longer period of time, I’ve noticed that they become uber aware of using (or not using) their devices. My friend Leila went so far as to put her phone away for the rest of our brunch. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose.

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I hope that my classmates who listened to my presentation and those in the photographs are able to take something from this. I hope that Dr. Sexson can eventually convince mothers in the NICU to stare at their beautiful babies more than their phones.

Maybe, like boyd, we’ll all be able to strike “a balance, a rhythm that moves us in ways that make us feel whole without ripping our sanity to shreds.”
I know I’m going to make an effort to establish a degree of distance between myself and the devices that were built to make my life easier.
Let’s take a break— here and there, every once in a while— to just turn off and let go. Surround yourself with the people nearby or talk to a new neighbor. As my professor Dr. Dowd always reminds us, you never know who’s on the other side of your wall.
It would be an unreasonable request to ask everyone to completely disconnect from our brilliant, alluring, and sometimes magical gadgets. For they do some outstanding, unimaginable things for us. But I think we’d be a happier, freer people if we knew when enough is enough.

works cited:

boyd, danah. “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle.” The Social Media Reader. Ed. Michael Mandiberg. New York and London: New York University Press, 2012. 71-76.
Hoggard, Liz. “Life Looks Good on the Surface – so Why Are We All so Lonely?” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 23 Apr. 2017.
Marche, Stephen. “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 19 Feb. 2014.
Pickersgill, Eric. “Photographs.” REMOVED. ©EricPicksergill, 2017.
Rosen, Jay. “The People Formerly Known as the Audience.” The Social Media Reader. Ed. Michael Mandiberg. New York and London: New York University Press, 2012. 13-16.
Ross, Julianne. “The Idea That Online Life Isn’t Real Is Trite- and Harmful.” Wired. Condé Nast, 20 Oct. 2015.
Smith-Lovin, Lynn, Matthew E. Brashears, and Miller McPherson. “Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks over Two Decades.” American Sociological Review 73.6 (2008): 1022.
Turkle, Sherry. “The Flight From Conversation.” The New York Times Sunday Review. The New York Times Company, 21 Apr. 2012.
Vedantam, Shankhar. “When It Comes To Our Lives On Social Media, ‘There’s Always Another Story’.” Hidden Brain: A Conversation about Life’s Unseen Patterns. NPR, 17 Apr. 2017. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

Junot comes to #EMORY

One type of media we⏤ or at least I⏤ haven’t talked about in length this semester is books. Back in January, we all subscribed to Wired and a daily newspaper of our choice. For me this is the Wall Street Journal. And I must say, I’ve loved getting my newspaper delivered to my doorstep every morning.

But just like the fields of music, live TV, and shopping (to name a few), I would argue that the digital is having an affect on reading trends nation- and perhaps worldwide. I found a few neat Pew studies documenting trends in reading after the advent of things like the Amazon Kindle. A 2015 study found that “Slightly fewer Americans are reading print books.”

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Given that I’m a huge book-lover (and a proud Kindle-owner), I always find studies like this so disheartening.  I think everyone should read, and as often as possible.

Which brings me to the focus of this post: Junot Díaz’s April 12 visit and lecture at Emory. The Dominican Republic-born and New Jersey-raised Díaz is a world-class author… a Pulitzer prize winner to be more specific. It made me so happy that the Schwartz Center was packed with people⏤ both young and old⏤ who came to hear him speak.

Díaz began with a brief speech before diving into audience questions for the majority of the event. He talked of xenophobia, “the Wall,” racism, freedom, and history. All the while, everyone around me remained totally engaged in his words. I must just be accustomed to the always-on world of 2017 because this felt like a treat.

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It also had me wondering about how and why Junot has achieved this fame and captured the legit undivided attention of his audience. Is it because he writes in a way that works with our fast-paced, fleeting way of life? Or maybe the issues he writes about are high priority. Either way, he owned it.

Props to Emory for making this happen!

eyes on the prize

In the weeks since I decided to take on my own “Removed” project, I have become hyperaware of everyone’s obsession with and addiction to their screens.

Tb-completely-h I have even taken to watching my friends and other random humans in my vicinity as they interact with their digital devices. Whether people want to admit it or not, there is no denying that we spend huge chunks of time zeroed in on our phones, iPads, etc. This is both when we’re alone and together.

But what is becoming ever more present to me is that we are never truly alone– as long as our devices are present. We can be reached whenever and wherever… God forbid we are off the grid for even a second.

With this in mind, I hope to shed some light and reflect on what this means for our bonds. For starters, I plan to reference danah boyd’s article that we read (and which I was critical of from the get-go). I have also found some super fascinating research, such as a 2011 study conducted at the University of Michigan and the awesome work of scholars like Sherry Turkle, the Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.

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Additionally, I want to draw on some alternate sources, including the 2014 spoken word video, “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?

But I really want to let my photographs do some talking.

I have made a few decisions in this regard. I will not use my iPhone to take the photos, which I initially intended to do. I think this would be going a bit against the grain of my mission.

Vicki_Eric_Pickersgill_Removed.jpgI also tried taking a few photos with my phone (see above), and frankly didn’t love the focus and clarity. Also, please take not of the individual in the background. That was not intentional for the record. Anyway, in order to achieve a look similar to Pickersgill’s, I think I’ll have to take a few steps back in time and use a real deal camera.

In short, I’m really excited. I look forward to gaining some new perspectives on how the online/ digital is affecting our lives both as we use them and when we aren’t. Stay tuned…

blog reFresh

I am quite happy with my blog. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but it achieves everything I set out to do.

Emphasizes my writing ✓

Looks clean and neat ✓

Incorporates non-text elements seamlessly into the text ✓

Looks good on mobile and desktop ✓

I find my blog to be clean and professional. The theme I went with before our last update, Ixion, includes those two words in its description. When I searched ‘clean’ and ‘professional’ amongst the free WordPress templates, Ixion was one of my top matches.

Ixion did not fall onto this list of the top 40 Best Clean & Minimal WordPress Themes for 2017, which kind of bummed me out, but then I realized that the vast majority of those listed required downloading and paying for use. I think Ixion gets the job done without costing a dime!

So I do owe a lot of my satisfaction to the theme itself⎯ not to mention the fact that the colors are black and yellow (just like Pittsburgh’s)!

But I will say this, WordPress is not the most user-friendly site I have encountered. Especially for something that allegedly is home to 27% of the web’s sites. I personally would expect a platform that holds such a large chunk of the market to be significantly more accessible.

Say, for example, I did want to change my site’s colors. I thought about it but wasn’t able to figure out how or if I am able to do so using Ixion. That’s slightly frustrating.

I do like the widgets at the bottom of my blog. As I mentioned in my last update, I added my Twitter and Instagram feeds. I also connected my Twitter to my WordPress account so that I can automatically share my blog posts as they go live.

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I also added another widget that holds all my categories. This way visitors to my sight can go straight to my posts that fall under ‘Blog Update‘ if that’s what they want to read.

Wait! Just now I figured out how to customize my site background. As you can see, it’s a little bit off-white, kind of purpley. I think it’s easier on the eyes.

Scratch that, I don’t like the way certain parts of the site are still in white. That looks janky.

There are still the black & yellow accents though, don’t fret! As far as I can tell, those are not up for debate!

Music Consumption in the Age of Spotify

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In my 21.5 years of life, I have witnessed and taken part in a ever changing array of music consumption practices. My earliest days featured the likes of cassettes and CDs, most likely blasting Sugar Ray and Hootie & the Blowfish.

I remember my mom taking me to pick out a purple boombox that played tapes, discs and did AM and FM radio… kind of like John Cusack’s in Say Anything, but more high tech. It doesn’t seem long ago at all that I had my own portable CD player, which gave me some street cred on the bus to day camp.

Then there was iTunes and iPods (RIP Tower Records).

Whenever I was lucky enough to get my hands on an iTunes gift card, I scoured the Top Charts lists and played the 30-second preview so many times until I was absolutely certain that a song was worth the 99¢ that Apple charged. There was always that internal struggle over whether you really liked a song, or just liked it at the moment and would be over it by week’s end… who was to say?

A little further down the road, my family got super into SiriusXM radio. To be completely honest, we still are. This was kind of a fresh take on the whole radio scene, and really seems to be one of the only things keeping it in the game.

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Why is that, you ask? Because of streaming services. On-demand music services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Napster (previously known as Rhapsody), SoundCloud, Tidal, I could go on and on, have taken over the world of music listening.

Each one has its own little perks and quirks. For example, SoundCloud is known for having one of the “most diverse indie libraries online,” according to Digital Trends. And TIDAL, owned by Jay Z himself, apparently has the most high-end, quality sound for true music connoisseurs.

So much of the talk surrounding streaming services has to do with whether or not Spotify et al is good for the music industry. By this, I mean the record companies and the artists. In short, those on the production side of the content.

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We all read (or read about) Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple Music. Everyone is up in arms over musicians getting a fair share of the profits generated by digital services like Spotify– especially when new research from The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has found that “for the first time ever, streaming music platforms generated the majority of the U.S. music industry’s revenues.”

There’s a lot to talk about here. The bulk of the problem, it seems, stems from a lack of understanding of what services like Spotify are aiming to do. They aren’t trying to be a digital record store like iTunes. I think it’s best to think of them as as an intermediary.

John Seabrook of The New Yorker wrote in 2014, “Spotify doesn’t sell music; it sells access to it. Instead of buying songs and albums, you pay a monthly subscription fee ($9.99), or get served an ad every few songs if you’re on the free tier.”

 

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But what about the music listeners? I’m interested in how streaming is affecting consumption practices. And, quite frankly, I think there needs to be more research focused on how this technology is transforming music reception and discovery.

I’m a huge fan of Farhad Manjoo’s 2015 piece, “Spotify Wants Listeners to Break Down Music Barriers,” from the New York Times. It is packed with a bunch of information I didn’t know. Who knew that “the Billboard charts now count plays on Spotify and YouTube in their calculation of the country’s top hits?”

When planning what to play on radio stations, programmers look to these services for clues as to what they should add to the queue.

In the Sociology of Music senior seminar I am currently taking with Dr. Dowd, we have discussed how radio stations typically only add a few songs into their rotation each week. In other words, radio is considered a very homogenous medium, and has been known to narrowcast.

This whole dynamic must be in flux now that the power’s in the listener’s hands. Through conversation with pop critic and pop chart analyst Chris Molanphy, Manjoo learned that “Internet plays are pushing quirky new acts to the top of the charts faster than ever.”

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I love the example of Lorde (And I just love Lorde in general). I mean who knows when or if she would have been found if it weren’t for Spotify. She was only a teenager in New Zealand! Legend says that when Sean Parker (of Napster/ Facebook fame) added her single “Royals” to his Hipster International playlist, an “immediate reaction [was felt] around the world.”

Spotify claims that this is what they’re all about: music for everyone and everything. There are playlists that use an algorithm to curate new music weekly for you, Discovery Weekly. They’ve got party playlists and workout playlists, even some for when you’re feeling sad or need a pick-me-up.

Here, you won’t see 50 songs by the same artist or even necessarily from the same album. But if you’re looking for some fresh tracks, the weekly collection Spotify puts together for you may fit the bill. And who knows, maybe you’ll find the next ‘Royals’ in there.

These playlists may even produce the flow that Benjamin Brojakowski refers to when it comes to binge-watching TV. We all know those people who get so pumped to see what Spotify puts together for them each week.

I’m curious to see if these trends lead to more omnivorous tastes in the long run. A lot of scholars, including Manjoo, have likened Spotify to a buffet. That is, “we sample widely, and when we find something we like we binge,” says Manjoo.

Will this make us cultural nomads, he asks? I look forward to finding out.

Fake News and the Consumer

I am glad that Dr. Allison encouraged us to go to the March 24 Teach-In on the Quad. I don’t know if I would have heard about it otherwise, and it ended up being very interesting.

The theme was “Intellectual Responsibility: Truth and Politics.” A bunch of the different academic departments had an hour time slot, in which students and professors spoke on how this theme applied to their research and work. The Film and Media Studies Department focused on Fake News, a topic we have discussed almost weekly in our class.

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I especially enjoyed the second presentation that featured Emory Professor and Journalist Hank Klibanoff. After many years in the field of journalism and an impressive career, it was neat to hear Klibanoff’s thoughts on the current state of News in America.

According to Professor Klibanoff, “in mainstream media, no one is as critical as journalists are of themselves.” He argued that this may be the only industry where professionals daily point on and call attention to mistakes made in the ‘Corrections’ section of a newspaper, magazine, or publication.

I think the key word here is mainstream. Klibanoff was referring to news producers that hold themselves to a high standard, that have integrity. I immediately thought of publications like the Wall Street Journal, which I chose to subscribe to at the beginning of the semester. I think journalists at theWSJ would fit the bill.

This leads to something else we have discussed in regards to fake news and news in general: how do you discern the good stuff from the bad? How do you filter through all of it and get a well-rounded, partisan glimpse of society when there’s so much out there? Klibanoff believes this burden has shifted to the news consumer.

“You have to bring your own filters and scrutiny to what you read,” said Klibanoff.

I enjoyed Klibanoff and the other professors’ comments. I particularly appreciated his comment about the changing role of the consumer in this evolving and changing news media landscape. I will be certain to keep that in mind and not believe everything I read!

Proposal

At this point, I imagine that my collection of blog posts, in-class comments, and digital essays has indicated my feelings on digital media. On one hand, the magical benefits and #affordances media grant us are immeasurable. Where would we be today if it weren’t for YouTube and Siri (among so many other innovations)?

But at the same time, I’m a bit cautious to call digital media all fun & games. I worry about the effects– good and bad– it’s having on our relationships and way of life.

For my Final Project, I am hoping to create a compilation of photos based on the work of photographer Eric Pickersgill. Much like Pickersgill’s project, Removed, this series of photos will will make a commentary on “the social and physical implications” of personal devices.

Like Pickersgill’s work, I will feature “individuals who appear to be holding personal devices although the devices have been physically removed from the sitter’s hand.” The subject(s) will be asked to hold the same pose and expression. At the same time that I request they remove their device, I will ask for consent to photograph the scene.

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It is my intention to use Emory students or anyone younger than college-aged whenever possible. I am interested in photographing this age group, as they are often referred to as “digital natives.” I look forward to discussing their opinions on this subject as well.

I guess what I’m seeking to question is what we miss when we’re too busy to look up from our phones? Or who passes us by when we’re signaling to the world that whatever’s on our screen is more important than them? How has society been altered by technology? And what does this mean?

“The tribe has spoken”

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I really enjoyed reading Benjamin Brojakowski’s chapter, “Spoiler Alert: Understanding Television Enjoyment in the Social Media Era.” Except for the part where he argued that flow theory can been expanded to include daily activities like watching TV…

I’m not sure if I can get on board with that.

But all in all, it had me reminiscing on the romanticized days of my youth. All the kids in my neighborhood, Murdoch Farms (s/o to Gus for just getting into the Pitt PhD program!), were obsessed with the show Survivor. When 8pm rolled around on Thursday nights, we would be glued to our TVs, cheering on our favorite contestants. At the end of any given season, someone would host a Finale Party.

Each family brought a dish or two that they couldn’t live without, and we all voted for who we thought should win. I even think we had buffs like the ones they wore on the show.

These were totally the days of appointment-viewing practices. Unless of course, our parents decided we couldn’t watch ‘live’ and that Thursday’s show had to be TiVoed for later. This happened often, as I had an early bedtime and lots of activities that little kids do. But the consequences weren’t so tragic.

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I didn’t have to avoid blogs or co-workers who “might ruin [my] enjoyment of the episode” because those things didn’t exist in my world. We weren’t on social media. Platforms like Twitter had yet to be invented.

However I did just learn that a site called Survivor🔥Fandom exists, and they offer spoilers. But that’s a pretty recent development, as in they only have archives from seasons 31, 32, and 33. The 34th season, Survivor: Game Changers — Mamanuca Islands, just started airing on March 8. Sadly I can’t say that I still tune in on Thursdays.

I will always have fond memories of the days when I did watch Survivor. A lot of this can be credited to the people with whom I shared this enjoying entertainment. I remember getting really absorbed or “transported” into the show with my little brother during the challenges, and talking about my favorite contestants with friends Lily and Audrey.

Brojakowski offers up the idea that “communal viewing of a program may enhance the enjoyment.” I can certainly get on board with this.

BuzzFeed is NOT the leading digital media co.

Using the one and only BuzzFeed, I created a listicle on why “You Should Never Read BuzzFeed.” I know it’s a little ironic (given my choice of outlet), but I’ve been thinking now is an opportune time to voice these concerns amidst all this buzz surrounding what’s real news, who’s credible, who’s fake, etc.

Now, please forgive me if my post is a little poor in the quality department. This was my first foray into the BuzzFeed world as a Community User. I created an account and started down the path of the media producer. And I must admit to being a little disappointed with the back end, behind-the-scenes side of things on the Feed.

As someone who considers myself a true digital native and an active participant in the “always-on” lifestyle, I tend to be pretty good with technology. But let me tell you, BuzzFeed is not the most user-friendly. In fact, I would call it intimidating and cold… definitely not two words typically used to describe tech. And just not that aesthetically nice… Never a good thing in my book.

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But I prevailed and continued along in my quest to create a BuzzFeed post. Because after all, I’m not just a media consumer.

After reading over my list a few times, I think I actually touch on a few of the key issues being discussed in regards to news media today. For one, who are the authors of the so-called News we read, and are they trustworthy sources? Hard to say, honestly. Because as I mention, anyone can become a contributor on BuzzFeed.

The site legitimately uses the word “anyone,” which I found quite troubling. Maybe I’m lame and hold myself to a higher standard than most when it comes to news consumption preferences, but anyone? C’mon!

Second, who decides the stories that are being written? More specifically, who decided that Andrea Hickey should be writing about the 9 Types of Underwear I definitely do not own? Jemima Skelley thinks she can accurately guess my middle name based on a quiz about food… who gave you any authority?

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These people are BuzzFeed Staff Writers, and are getting paid to spew this nonsense at the masses. No wonder why Americans are having trouble with the concept of news these days. They’re getting informed by Jemima who wants “Taylor Swift to sue [her] so [she] can meet her.” 😂

Maybe I’m being a bit mean, or as E. Gabriella Coleman might say “trolly.” But you have to admit, this whole #FakeNews thing is getting to be a lot.

Flashback to the time people turned on CNN to find President Trump and VP Pence deplaning from what I presume to be Air Force 1. Rather than let them carry on with their business, the news channel wondered aloud if our President is afraid of stairs.

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If the goal is to get clicks, if all these news companies are after is engagements from their audience, then is the content itself all that important? Maybe people truly are selling out.

Another question BuzzFeed had me asking myself is how do you get a well-rounded, bipartisan version of the news on a site where you have to click around from one story to the next? In other words, the choice is yours when it comes to picking what you consume. It’s not bundled in a little plastic bag and sitting on your doorstep, or even typed up in a single email and waiting in your inbox until you stir.

Nope, BuzzFeed is like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books. The stories, videos, and quizzes I go for could be totally unique from my friends.

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As you can probably tell, my mind is going in a lot of different directions here. I’m intrigued by this self-defined news platform and the consumption methods of its users. Don’t expect these to be my last words on the matter! I’ll be back.

I’d like to end this by giving a shoutout to my new friends at BuzzFeed. Thank you for the warm welcome message given the nature of my post.