Monday, November 14, 2011

Academic analysis: I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately

I recently read a study on how Twitter users imagine their audience and how they adjust communication from face-to-face conversation to imagined audiences online. Some users say they tweet for their friends, family, and their fans. Some say they tweet just for themselves, using Twitter as kind of a "live diary" of sorts. These types of Twitter users dislike the notion of having an audience, the study found, because it's not authentic to who they are. The study also finds that "ideal audience" is often a mirror-image of yourself. This creates the concept of the "micro-celebrity" which I find so interesting and so accurate from my time spent on Twitter.

People with absolutely no "traditional" fame can become "Twitter famous" through various means, whether its posting inspiring quotes or being the biggest fan of a celebrity. These people gain over 50k followers for no discernible reason. I think this can change and warp the way we look at celebrities as a whole and blur the lines between "normal" people and the more famous people we put on a pedestal. This can also have an adverse effect for journalists who are not supposed to respond to or interact with comments made on their news articles. With Twitter, people can come at you via your account and try to discuss the article with you, which goes against what I was taught at The Lantern. We're taught to never engage with our audience, but Twitter is starting to change that notion.

This is one of the reasons why The Lantern doesn't put its staff members' Twitter handles underneath our bylines because there have been issues with this before. This is an issue pressing all writers across the world. "New media has changed the broadcast model of the audience, decentralizing media production and distribution." And social media is changing it even further. The implication this could have on society is astounding, because it warps a lot of what we already think we know about audience management. We often think of audiences as being in the shadow, not being able to reach out and communicate with us. Social media has effected that permanently. More and more celebrities, reporters, and politicians are feeling the backlash of being too candid with their Twitter accounts because their audience is right there.

Social media isn't going anywhere, so users will have to adjust and figure how to relate to their audience and navigate the waters of the Twitterverse more carefully.

Marwick, E., Alice, Boyd, Danah. (2010). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media Society,13(114), 19. doi: 10.1177/146144481036531 Retrieved from

Monday, November 7, 2011

News item: Lady Gaga Launches 'Born This Way' Foundation

I read this story about how Lady Gaga is creating this foundation to help fight bullying in America. I think it's quite a noble thing to do, but I don't know how effective it will be. She's doing it with help from the McArthur Foundation and Harvard University. "Together we hope to establish a standard of bravery and kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment," Gaga said about the foundation. In this age of increased cyber bullying and martyrdom, I think the impact on society this will have might be huge. If I know anything about Gaga, and I know a lot, she will pursue and fight for what she believes in, even if the public finds her annoying.

People have been aware of bullying for quite some time and have been trying to prevent it from happening but I think it's impossible to make it illegal or even create a law trying to contain it. I think schools and parents should continue to be the ones to discipline and punish those involved with bullying. I think schools need to beef up their protection of students, but I also think that kids need to learn to stand up for themselves. The public has always known Gaga to stand up for the disenfranchised and that's nothing new. But I do applaud her for her efforts in this project and I hope something awesome comes out of it.

Chances are that nothing will change. We Americans are lazy when it comes to enacting any king of real change. Look at how long it's taken to get New York to legalize gay marriage, while you have California being wishy washy about it. There's always going to be a constant struggle between what's seen as right and what is supposedly wrong. The public will never agree on what constitutes as bullying. Is it simply name-calling? Or demanding lunch money? Is it only reserved for physical violence? What about cyber harassment? There are too many factors to consider when discussing bullying. And you also have to consider the ages of the parties involved. This issue, like so many others, will take a very long time to get settled. I hope this foundation will do well and put more attention on this problem.