Mind the Gap

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Soraya 2013

Many people are under the impression that online sexism against women is a thing of the past. They believe, since men and women are now freely allowed to — and do so regularly — use social media and voice their opinions all over the internet, that women aren’t discriminated against for having these opinions. This is not the case; there is a huge gender gap in the online convergence environment. As unbelievable as it may sound in our generation, there are actually men (and some women) in the world that despise women and think they shouldn’t have a voice. The main source of this online gender gap is generally from one thing, misogyny.

The internet is regularly recognised for its ‘openness’, but ‘open’ in no way means ‘equal’. While it may create a place for people to voice their opinions, it also magnifies the inequality between genders. The problem with the web is the ability to appear anonymous. Since the option to send harassment without consequence is available, there is nothing stopping misogynists from voicing sexist opinions. This has lead to ‘trolling’ becoming a sadly normal phenomenon. Many women have spoken out about their online experiences of trolling after lobbying for women’s rights, such as Caroline Criado-Perez who received threats of death and sexual assault after she successfully campaigned to get images of women onto British banknotes. Females who are then speaking out about harassers are accused of trying to suppress free speech, a contradiction since the women are simply using their own free speech.

Alarmingly, a University of Maryland study revealed that young people posting in chatrooms with female usernames receive 25 times more malicious messages than men. The authors of the study then advised parents to tell their children to not divulge their gender online. The message? Young girls can use the internet, they just have to hide who they are.

Whilst sexism is an old problem, new media has made this hate against women almost acceptable, as long as it’s online. We don’t approve of misogyny in the real world, so it should not be tolerated online. Discrimination against women is still very much a prevailing issue.

Lizodool 2012
Lizodool 2012

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Reference:
Moore, C. 2014, ‘#mencallmethings: identity and difference online week 10′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 13 May 2014.

 

Social Media Saviours

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unicef anti-clicktivism ad – OneGirl 2013

The convergence of technology has led to ways for young people to become involved with political activism online. But, there is widespread debate as to whether or not this social media activism, known as clicktivism, actually has a powerful impact. Many argue that it “lacks the personal ties of community that once drove social change” (Jenkins 2012). Yet, others encourage young people to create and share to spread a message that they feel is important.

But, how much of difference does online activism actually make? Mass debate can be seen around whether or not it is a positive or negative trend.

Many believe that clicktivism is a valuable process which welcomes involvement and voice, and provides a gateway towards political activities like voting. As a link between popular culture and social causes, clicktivism is thought to influence more people than traditional awareness methods by branching entertainment into politics (Jenkins 2012). One example of positive online activism is the Harry Potter Alliance which uses social media and a popular franchise to successfully assist important issues. In encouragement of clicktivism, several organisations claim that most of their supporters find the organisation through social media.

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statistics of clicktivism: study by Georgetown University – OneGirl 2013

In contrast, many people criticise young people involved in clicktivism as lazy in comparison to the political protesters of the 1960’s. Whilst it is understood clicktivism may raise awareness, many judge that the action stops there. A person may feel like they’ve done their part by ‘liking’ something but they actually haven’t achieved much. An unfortunate example of ineffective clicktivism can be seen through the number of people not undergoing the recommended tests for breast and prostate cancer, despite all the pink ribbons and Movember moustaches seen on social media. For it to be of any significance, a click needs to be “the first step people take towards making a difference and not the last” (Flaim 2013).

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anti-clicktivism ad by Crisis Relief Singapore (CRS) – OneGirl 2013

Although opinions on clicktivism are split twofold, anything that creates broad awareness on an important issue is a good thing in my eyes. Yes, a ‘like’ may be a small gesture, but it is far better than doing nothing, especially if this action spreads awareness or leads to further involvement.

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘We are the 99%: between #ows and clicktivism week 9′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 6 May 2014.

The Rise of Remixes

My understanding of remixes is that they are formed when independent media pieces are joined to create an entirely new form of media with a differing meaning from the original. Filmmaker Johan Söderberg (2007) describes remixes nicely, stating that they are “just like cooking. In your cupboard in your kitchen you have lots of different things and you try to connect different tastes together to create something interesting.”
These remixes are new and refreshing online developments, but they are part of an ancient tradition: the recycling of old culture to make new. All creators throughout time have stood “on the shoulders of giants” as Isaac Newton (1676) states. 

However, over time these remixes, specifically music related, have being completely revolutionised and increased in frequency as a result of the rapid changes in technology which “allow us to pick apart media and put it back together in new and different … and very exciting ways” – Kreisinger (2011). The opportunities to mix-up, change and reinvent sounds are now massively wide-spread and simple, as Söderberg (2007) explains, “you can do (video remix) almost for free on your own computer”. The convergence culture of our society, with hundreds of different technologies being shoved inside smaller and more powerful technologies has provided more people with the power to create, which means that many more do. Instead of simply listening to remixes as an audience, users are becoming produsers, using readily-available technology to interpret and remodel media in their own ways, either on their own or through collaboration with other produsers. This use of already existent media to create remixes is not simply copying. Lessig (2008) provides the analogy of sounds being used like “paint on a palette. But all the paint has been scratched off of other paintings”. That is essentially what convergent technology has enabled: unique and beautiful paintings that are only possible to paint with the colours from other paintings. 

The process of convergence has enabled users to both create and enjoy many things throughout the media, but in my opinion, the most exciting and entertaining is the phenomenon that is the remix culture.

My favourite remix-

the original:

remix:

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Reference:

Moore, C. 2014, ‘Rip/Mix/Burn: music sampling and the rise of remix culture′, lecture, BCM112, University of Wollongong, delivered 29 April 2014.