Paying Attention to Attention

This week was interesting.  I would definitely have to say that it is not a very accurate representation of my internet usage and habits when I have better access to wi-fi and my schedule is not so messed up.  What my journal told me this week was that my schedule has been not been conducive at all to staying on top of homework and keeping up with assignments.  The combination of heat and storms made it so that the internet signal was spotty at best and completely non-existent at worst.  I had to restart my phone multiple times this week so that it would resynchronize, or whatever, with the available cellphone service so that I could have some sort of connectivity rather than none.

storm
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Adam Singer

Even with such efforts being made, I still did not get as much done as I wanted to when I wanted to because I had to spend most of my time this week in my grandparents’ garden picking produce and pulling grass.  Due to their conditions, they are unable to take care of the garden as it needs to be taken care of, especially when the rainfall is managing to stay far enough away that absolutely none hits the garden, but it still stays close enough to mess with the cell service and wi-fi connectivity.  It has been even more important this week because the fair is on Monday.  Every year my grandfather chooses the best produce from his garden to compete with and oftentimes wins numerous blue ribbons.  It is a nice hobby for him to have, but it is difficult for him to maintain because his chemotherapy and radiation sap his energy and make him unable to be out in the heat and the sunlight for any extended period of time.  He tried to do so last week and got a sunburn that looked like a massive bruise spanning the entirety of his arms.

garden
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Jennifer C. (I only wish my grandparents’ garden was this organized!)

When I have better connectivity and availability, I tend to stay more up-to-date with current events, I schedule my homework times better and able to stay more focused as I have the freedom to take short breaks and return to my assignments as I need to.  Even though the data rolled over while I am staying with my mother, she gets antsy when I use it for any length of time longer than fifteen minutes because the amount is not enough for trying to keep up with a college class.  When I get back to Chadron, part of my goal for this upcoming school year is to have a budget that allows me to have internet at my apartment rather than being limited to the internet on campus and at the local library.  If that happens, I will definitely need to be mindful of my usage and make sure that I am being moderate and conscientious.

balance
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by TZA

 

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Mastering the Art of Mindfulness

This week we focused on digital mindfulness within this module, and at first I thought it was about thinking before speaking… you know, to align with the previous modules of digital citizenship and digital activism.  However, it turned out to be more of how we think and feel about technology and while we use technology.

mindfulness
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Kenley Neufeld

One of the prompts suggested in the assignment sheet was whether or not I feel that I use technology mindfully.  For the most part, I do feel that I use technology mindfully.  I always try to stick to sites that I know are safe and secure, and I always make sure that my antivirus software is up-to-date and functioning correctly.  I always password protect my accounts and make sure that they all have enough complexity to avoid being hacked or spoofed.  On the other hand, I oftentimes stay up much later than I should while using technology which is rather unhealthy.  As a result, I end up losing sleep because it becomes difficult to fall asleep even after I have stopped using the technology.

insomnia
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Ape Lad

The second prompt is to discuss when we feel that we need to be more attentive.  Personally, I have a really bad habit of becoming distracted by technology when I should be focusing on homework.  The most common occurrence is that I am trying to look something up but become distracted by news and other current events.  The next thing I know is that I am trying to learn exactly why giraffes have those nubbins on the tops of their heads.  Other than that, I would like to think that I am pretty attentive.  I think this comes from a childhood and adolescence spent without the luxury of internet service, so I have never really felt it to be an overwhelming presence in my life.

distracted
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Lauren Coolman

Stemming from that train of thought, there are times when technology impacts the relative attentiveness of the people that use it.  For instance, I spent a semester sitting next to a classmate that would trawl the internet rather than pay attention in class and did poorly on tests and assignments as a result of it.  I have also seen parents and caregivers be inattentive around young children which can be incredibly dangerous and result in injury or even loss of life.  To this end, I personally know a parent who almost let their baby choke because they were too busy watching television to pay attention to their young child.  As it stands, we need to stop multitasking when it becomes a detriment to the wellbeing of ourselves and others.  We lose the ability to be fully aware of the important things when we allow ourselves to be too sucked in by technology in favor of reality.

Conclusively, the articles, Simplify the Internet and What Happens When Teens Try to Disconnect from the Internet for Three Days, and the TED talk (embedded below) this week taught me that we need moderation.  I do not necessarily agree with the argument that we are entrenched by our technology to the point of really missing anything.  The only time we miss anything is when we do not care enough to catch it.  Technology has allowed us to immortalize moments that would have otherwise been restricted to faulty memory.  It has allowed us to save more lives through improved medicine and medical technology.  Social media has allowed us to connect with people and places that would have never before been possible without technology.  Frankly, to my mind it has done far more harm than good and is so rooted through our society and our lives that rather than trying to cut it out completely as some sort of “challenge”, the best thing is to learn and practice moderation and self-control.  I understand that these articles and the Ted Talk were really only referring to the Internet, but far too many people in my life have tried to take the argument against Internet and extend it to an argument against all technology.  I get to hear things like “I should have been born in a different time” and the “What happened to being self-sufficient” arguments far too much, but I would not be alive if it was not for technology.  Additionally, such arguments are all fun and games until reality kicks in with the diseases and the hardships and the drawbacks that technology has circumvented.

Piktochart and The Project

For this particular assignment I chose to explore the digital tool “Piktochart”.  There was no particular reason why I chose to use this one rather than the canvas tool other than it was the first one I typed into the web address bar.  As I quickly came to realize, using Piktochart is a lot more difficult than the tech review in this week’s readings would have you think.  At first I was excited because there were so many online templates to choose from which simplifies the learning and usage process immensely when you are unfamiliar with a tool, but then I discovered that ninety percent (arbitrary number) of the templates were only available if you had shelled out money for the “pro membership”.  Luckily, there was a filter that allowed me to look only at the free templates which narrowed my choices to around eight options.

Since the website suggested that I use one of their templates to practice with and turn into my first graphic, that is what I did.  My first attempt was a rough mock-up of a poster for a club event.  Since I am a member of the Social Science Club at Chadron State, I used our annual Back-to-School Bash as the inspiration.  I chose a template and then began to play around with the capabilities.  The site seemed to function much like Adobe InDesign where you arrange pieces with it rather than trying to create them using it.  Therefore, for anyone who decides to stick with Piktochart I would recommend using Photoshop, or something similar, to fix up and compress any images you decide to use before uploading them into the software for arrangement.

Once I was done, I went to save the project and download it to my laptop.  The matter of saving the project was easy as Piktochart allows you to sign up with a free account.  However, unless you have the aforementioned pro membership, you are only able to download your projects as a PNG or a JPEG.  You are not allowed to save it as a PDF.

After that, I utilized the software to create the graphic for my independent learning project included here.

project-timeline
Call me a nerd, but I love the space background.

I think this software, and others like it, are very beneficial to the classrooms of today.  One great use would be to make classroom posters and infographics to match what you are doing and what your students are interested rather than settling for something that only kind of fits.  Another great use would be to have the students make the infographics either for class, a club, or because they are passionate about something.  Not only are the students presenting great information, but they are connecting with other students and community members that share their interests, learning new skills, and being creative.  Additionally, in today’s world where everything is saturated with a combination of information and advertisement, infographics best meet the visual needs of the people.  The information is made to be clear and concise while the images are carefully chosen to accurately represent and emphasize that text (and vice versa).

Exploring Digital Activism

How are teens using social media in their activism?

Teens are using social media because it is what they know and what, to some extent, belongs to them.  During the Revolutionary War, people used newspapers and brochures to further their cause, but that has become an outdated format.  Then people used radio to spread information during World War I and World War II in order to galvanize the people against injustice.  With the advent of television, that too has become a method of movement.  However, newspaper, radio, and television have now become controlled by large corporations who want to not only control what you say but also how you say it.

Corporations historically have built their success on the backs of the oppressed and the disenfranchised, but now the Internet is giving those people a voice.  I know many of you have watched Fox News and have, hopefully, been disgusted by how they speak about women, immigrants, LGBTQIA+, and other groups.  Those groups then went out and fought back through the Internet.  How many of you would have known that Trump’s campaign manager had assaulted a female reporter without the InternetHow many of you would have then known that CNN went and hired that same man after he was fired from Trump’s inner circle?

corporation.jpg
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Niall Kennedy

Teens are using the Internet because it is a vast resource that allows them to connect with people from all walks of life who want to support the cause in any way they can.  GoFundMe was a major resource for Kesha during her battle with Sony and Dr. Luke because loyal fans, sympathizers, and strangers alike sent money and kind messages to help her with the legal costs.  Without teens and digital activism, none of that would have been possible.

How Effective is that Activism?

While I have heard many people speak derisively about “Tumblrinas” and how pointless Internet activism is, many of those same people mindlessly consume information from the major media corporations about the same issues.  However, they fail to realize that the major media corporations spin the stories, ignore opposing viewpoints and conflicting information, and even outright lie at times because of their special interests.  Major media corporations have become too concerned with what will up their ratings, what will keep their bosses in power, and what is the most “attention-grabbing” to be the unbiased fact-checkers they should be.  Therefore, most of the time the naysayers are just regurgitating the negative things they have heard from the same people who would see their special interests harmed if Internet activism was respected as the effective tool that it is.

Have I Participated as a Digital Activist?

I have begun to build my repertoire as a digital activist within the past few years.  I personally donated to the Kesha fund, do intense amounts of research about important issues to make sure that I know enough to speak knowledgeably about multiple topics, and try to keep up-to-date on current events and trending petitions on the Internet.

petition
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by League of Women Voters of California LWVC

Key Issues to Consider

While the Internet is a great resource, it is important that you know how to use it correctly.  Remember back in high school when your teachers taught you about reliable versus unreliable digital sources?  Those skills come in handy when determining the relative validity of Internet information.  Also, it is important to find out who is running the information you are looking at and whether or not the facts have been doctored to meet any special interests.  Always look at the opposing viewpoint and cross-reference everything.

digital activism
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter

Final Update on the Blanket

At this point in my independent learning project, I have, for the most part, completed what looks to be like the first row of my blanket.  I have tried really hard to keep up with the project and the class, but I am going to be completely honest.  This summer has been incredibly difficult.  Everything that could have gone wrong this summer has, and I do not feel as though I have done as well as I could with the project and with the class as a whole.  Therefore, I apologize for not being as engaged with the class and everyone involved with it as I should have been.

IMAG1441
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Martin Deutsch

Regardless, I have managed to complete most of a row, or most of, most of a row if I want it to be bigger, of the blanket and am trying to decide if I want the small gaps in the design to remain open or if I want to fill them with additional squares.  If I do fill them with additional squares, I was thinking something along the lines of white, blue, or more red.  Since the blanket is for my mother, I asked for her opinion.  She said that she liked the idea of the red, but that the blue would also be really good since it would be reminiscent of KU’s colors.  For those of you who do not know, KU stands for “Kansas University” which is the major college really close to where I am from.  Their mascot is the Jayhawk and their colors are red and blue.  My mother is rather a fan of them and even attended the college for a semester right out of high school.

most of a row.jpg
Most of a Row… and it will probably be done by the end of the day today

 

jayhawk.jpg
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by FHKE

As such, at some point I am going to have to go out and purchase blue yarn to complete the project, but that is probably going to have to wait for a while.  At this point, it looks like my mother and my younger brother might have to move in with me, but that it is a relative uncertainty as to when that will happen.  It is clear that it will happen, but the question now is when.  Right now, I am having to take some of my mother’s more treasured possessions back with me when I go back to Chadron.  As it stands, I am going to have to take my mother’s vanity, a couple of nightstands, books, and miscellaneous objects that she wants to keep in good condition and put them in my spare bedroom.  This is because not only is the house’s basement infested with brown recluse spiders, but it also leaks, has mold, and is home to multiple vermin.

The Internet and I

Googling Myself

Links and Images

For this Week 5 blog post, the prompt was to Google yourself and then contemplate what you found.  To be honest, I did not find much that actually pertained to me specifically.  Since my name is not uncommon, I found many links to the profiles of other “Amanda Jeters” on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.  Apparently, there is also an “Amanda Jeter” who is a singer that performs and uploads videos of herself singing to YouTube regularly.  Adding to that, there are many famous individuals with either the first name of “Amanda” or the last name of “Jeter”, so they showed up in my Google search as well.  Some notable examples of this were Amanda Bynes, Derrick Jeter, and Michael Jeter.  However, I did show up when I clicked on the link to find “Amanda Jeter” on Facebook.

internet
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Dennis Skley

Active Spaces

I would not say that I am necessarily the most active person online, but there are a few spaces that I am fairly well engaged with.  For starters, I am rather active on WordPress and Twitter as a result of this class and others.  I am fairly active on Facebook to keep up-to-date with the activities of the CSC Social Science Club and as a part of my duties as an executive officer of the club.  I am also fairly active on Pinterest and Tumblr as they allow me to feed my hobbies and interests.  When I have the freedom to do so, I also like to play YouTube videos as background noise for when I am completing menial tasks as a way of keeping myself motivated.  Most of the time I do not know what really happened in the video, but the fact that there is a person speaking in the background activates the part of my brain that necessitates that everything is as it should be whether it is homework or housework.  I also tend to visit music-streaming sites such as Pandora and Spotify when I can.  When I need a quick brain break, I will often visit jigsaw puzzle sites or quiz sites such as JigsawPlanet or SporcleSporcle respectively.  (As a side note, Sporcle has many quizzes that are school-subject oriented so they might be useful as brain break or review tools.)

Online Identity

To be honest, I am not really sure what my online identity says about me.  In some aspects it might say that I am fairly outspoken about certain subjects.  If you knew where and how to look, it might also show how I have grown and changed as a person over time.  In other regards, the difficulty in finding me might show that I am either very secretive or just not very active online for whatever reason.  For those that do know me, the lack of an Internet presence is less because I am secretive and more because Internet has always been considered a luxury within the realm of my life and my circumstances.  Therefore, it is only within recent years that I have begun to leave any sorts of footprints on the Web.  As a result, I really have no idea what my online identity, or lack thereof, would say to a potential employer.  Come to think of it though, my personal Twitter feed might show that I have a weird sense of humor that tends to involve a lot of literature.

no internet
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Marcelo Graciolli

 

Screaming About Steubenville

When I began the readings for this week, I was stuck in a McDonald’s in Lawrence, Kansas trying not to scream about the Steubenville case article.  I mean… there were literally pictures of the girl’s attackers carrying her that had comments literally broadcasting either their previous actions, further intentions, or both, and yet such evidence was completely disregarded.  Why?  Because sadly a culture has been created where we are too willing to believe the attackers rather than the victims.  The article in question then pointed out that only twenty-four percent of rape reports actually lead to an arrest and that the rate of false accusations is eight percent.  While I can accept the twenty-four percent as plausible, the eight percent is far less so.  After a bit of digging, I found that Stanford actually estimates the number of false accusations to be more around two percent.

police tape
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Tony Webster

 

Adding to that, there are certain things that need to be taken into account even when dealing with this two percent.  To start with, if a victim is found to have misremembered then the claim is determined to be a false accusation.  Misremembering is when the memory of the incident is flawed or even completely incorrect in one fashion or another.  A person can misremember the date of the incident, the place it happened, and even the face of the person who committed the crime.  While there are sometimes blurred lines between what we consider to be a lie and what is a misremembered memory, misremembering often stems from trauma.  According to this abstract, misremembering may be an adaptive technique that the brain utilizes in order to protect itself from traumatic memories such as those about rape.  Therefore, if we understand that part of this “two percent” is made up by misremembered events, then the true number of false accusations is lower.

memory.jpg
Retreived from Flickr.com: CC by Kevin Dooley

Continuing along a similar vein, it is not uncommon for victims to recant their statements.  In the face of harassment, death threats, verbal/physical/mental/emotional abuse, pressuring from authorities, and other factors, victims often feel as though it would be better, safer even, for them to recant, refuse to testify, drop the charges, etc..  When this happens, the case is then added to that number of “false accusations” making up that aforementioned two percent.  In rape cases on high school and college campuses, this is a far too common event which then leads to fewer rapes actually being reported due to the fear of those things happening to the new victim too.  A notable example of what could cause a victim to recant is occurring on the campus of BYU.  Victims of rape on the campus have not only been victimized by their attackers but are then victimized further by the people who were supposed to help them.  If we accept this as plausible then the number of what could be considered “legitimate” false accusations is significantly lower than two percent.

However, those two conditions are not even taking into account cases where the sexual encounter was coerced rather than physically forced or cases where a disgusting loophole allowed the courts to rule that the act was not rape.

horrible.jpg
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by poulsbo

While this post admittedly deviated somewhat from the overarching theme of the module: digital citizenship, this was what I was spurred to write through the readings.  If I were to bring the point back to digital citizenship, I would have to say that internet awareness and activism can lead to changes in society.  Even today, we are seeing people become more versed in what is and is not unhealthy in interpersonal relationships, we are seeing people reach out to help victims, we are seeing people get the aid and advice they need because of digital citizens.  Such things are happening not only in the realm of rape cases, but also environmental activism, gun control, discrimination, and others.  As such, I believe that while many people are using the internet to do and say atrocious things, there are many more who are using it to make the world a better place.

revolution.jpg
Retrieved from Flickr.com: CC by Toban B.