Media Distractions in Politics

New technology doesn’t just distract us from ourselves. It distracts us from real life events.
In the past, I’ve mentioned that digital technology changes how we think about ourselves. A pocket sized screen that gives a constant connection to anything in the world [which also means that anything in the world can connect with you, at any time]. This device in your pocket which alters how you behave, is also being utilized by media outlets to manipulate what you see, and in turn, what you care about.

A few truly horrible things have happened this year, but because it’s an election year, very few of those things are being perpetuated by the Big media outlets. Instead, the media is focusing on social issues that get people arguing with each other for the purpose of having something debatable that politicians can talk about.

Pitting the poor against the poor is a centuries-old political tactic. It divides people along social lines, and puts blame onto the weaker of the groups. ‘Leaders’ rise to power with intent to represent the interests of the larger group. Of course, once a leader has risen high enough in the ranks, they stop caring about the people they’re supposed to be helping. They ‘turn a profit’ and become debased, turning their backs on their own people.
This is the cycle.  It’s happened thousands of times. It’s happening again, right now, with our own government.

The political officials like to keep the blame off themselves, so that when the masses grow angry, they can easily shift the hostility to other possible origins. Meaning that if you read the mainstream news, you won’t see anything that directly holds politicians responsible for tragedies.

An example: a few months ago The Flint Water Crisis was all over the news. Thousands of American people had been poisoned at the hands of their corrupt local officials. The investigation lead directly to a piece of legislation from the Governors office, that changed the water source of the city to the heavily polluted river. But the headlines to follow were Not about plans to fix the situation or about the criminal repercussions for the politicians involved; the headlines were about how people were still being forced to pay their water bills [because can you can’t legally Live in a house without running water]. Shifting All the Blame to a faceless legal regulation, which ironically, was intended to prevent people living in inhabitable conditions.

More food for thought.
Recently, a Shell crude oil facility leaked almost 90,000 gallons of oil into The Gulf off the coast of Louisiana. But that’s hardly in the news at all, because everyone is arguing about transgendered bathroom laws.

I really wish everyone was united in our efforts to Not go extinct. We Don’t Need to argue about marriage, religion, or bathroom laws; To Continue Living, we Need clean water, clean air, and healthy food.

Ps. Nothing bad happened to Gov. Rick Snyder. He wasn’t arrested for his crimes. He’s still in office.

Analyzing the FBI vs. Apple iPhone incident

What happened with the FBI iPhone case? -as of May2016
        The issue was presented in the media as a gripping safety and civil rights topic, which could impact millions of people’s privacy. When the court case began, it was because the FBI government agency wanted help from the tech company Apple in order to crack the encryption on a specific iPhone which was owned by the terrorist responsible for the San Bernardino shooting (killing 14 and injuring 22).
       Apple refused to help the FBI on the grounds that tech companies should not be forced to create operating systems with weak security features. If they did, it would set a dangerous precedent where the government is allowed to control and trample civil liberties.
The case was cancelled, however, because a mysterious 3rd party recommended a method to the FBI for cracking the phone without Apples help. The public might interpret this news as a strong indicator that the incident might soon be near its end. But soon after the successful crack, the topic was back in the news, as the FBI promised to use their new ‘cracking method’ to help other agencies crack other phones. Two other cases from federal and justice departments have risen from the ashes of the closed-San Bernardino case, to ask the FBI to crack phones containing non-vital evidence from lesser crimes. Seemly the agencies are just trying to create waves to push the issue to the lawmakers, so that legislation can be made to force the tech companies to create more hackable systems (or at least force the tech companies to retain ‘encryption keys’).
This new development could be interpreted as ‘the government has located a MASSIVE security flaw with our phones security and plans on using it’.  Several news outlets have published concerns about the issue, and presented the encryption topic as: If the FBI can hack the phone, then so can hackers, and we’re all at risk. By Not telling the public or Apple about the flaw in the security system, then the FBI is putting the public safety at risk.
Conceptually, the main focus has always been about how much access law enforcement should have to encrypted devices, and how tech companies should balance security issues with user privacy.   Now all the public can do is wait to see IF the lawmakers decide that government accessibility is more important than security and privacy.

Analyzing the FBI vs. iPhone incident with Key Communication Concepts
As a narrative, the case was reported in the news with the public in mind. All the key points tied back into how the results would impact the public. If the government officials were more accommodating to news interviews (in the same way that the tech CEOs spoke to the press), then the point of view might have been more equally represented.  For the purpose of the narrative analysis, we were fortunate enough that the court case itself came to a close during the blogging month, so that we can see the whole story arch.  More characters were been added as the story progressed. It’s no longer just the FBI and Apple, it’s now involving several branches of government, other court cases, other encrypted phones, lawmakers, as well as the general public.
As a culture, Americans want to maintain their Rights and Freedoms. The American Ideology places high values on those personal freedoms. Even if it’s all an illusion, it’s still what Americans believe. Culturally, we are willing to fight to defend it, on all levels. As a genre, the FBI iPhone story was a typical civil rights conflict, a competition supremacy story. The topics that kept reoccurring in the news were about civil liberties and the publics privacy.  Everything in the news signifies a cultural battle between right and wrong. The binary code of this incident isn’t as simple as ‘good vs. evil’, it’s more like ‘the authoritative vs. the industrial’, or ‘the government vs. private industry’.
The power struggle displayed in the news is a power-code. Power makes things happen. This is a ‘competition’ story that we are all familiar with.  The public can see this ‘power-code’ unravel  with the extreme lengths that the two main characters have gone to in order to maintain the upper hand. The financial investments they’ve both made into blocking the competition from making progress. This article (http://thenextweb.com/insider/2016/04/21/fbi-spent-more-than-a-million-dollars-to-crack-san-bernardino-iphone-and-found-nothing/) claims that the FBI has spent more than 1million dollars on cracking the iPhones encryptions, and found nothing.  So it would seem that the FBI is now changing strategies to fight the tech companies themselves, in order to force them into submission. The FBI leaders have been presented in the media as incompetent, totally inept in regards to technology process and protocol. The Tech industry has been presented as concerned for public safety, and therefor appears to be fighting for civil liberties.
These days, mass media uses digital modalities  to communicate with the public, which has increased the speed in which people can react to news, but also dampens the intensity that people feel for it. Technology had changed how people get the news, a landmark article about Security will most likely appear on the social media news feed, right next to totally irrelevant comedic material. People are only willing to see real news for a moment before scrolling past. The news outlets are constantly mediating new information regarding changes in the situation, but it has already faded from the public’s interest, as they scroll-on to the next topic.
The overall interpretation of all the issue, is that the Authorities want unlimited access to encrypted data, and have to force their agenda into Law, in order to handicap the tech industries to accommodate their demands. As we try to find the Meaning in order to make sense of the situation, it’s important to remember that these events could mean different things to different people.  The 1 San Bernardino phone from the Original court case  is now a tangible representation of all threats to tech security. Conceptual ideas, like the ideas of safety or freedom, are intangible,  and the public could be tricked into thinking that it exists, when it doesn’t.

a friend, a schoolmate, a neighbor. A Murderer

I know a guy who’s awaiting trial for murdering his parents. I didn’t know him well, but I’ve seen him around. He was attending the local University, so I probably saw him around. Judging by his age, he should have been close to graduating. We were in the same hobby-community. I saw him at events. We’ve hung out a few times. We lived in the same city.
He was a friend, a schoolmate, a neighbor.
I saw him the same day that he ‘murdered’ his parents.  He, apparently, went to an event right afterwards. He was out with friends on a bright April day, being a normal young person. He was making summer plans. We said ‘hey’ to each other.
I honestly didn’t know what to think when I heard the news. I was shocked, and scared, and thirsty for details.
Now that he’s been all over the news, I know more about him. He is the eldest son of traditional immigrants. His parents were educated community figures.
I would have talked about this particular incident earlier, But court proceedings are actually quite slow, and other things grew to be distracting while we waited for updates.
The hearing has been postponed 3 weeks [mid-June]. In the meanwhile, there have been some bothersome legal strategies. & I have some suspicions about His Brother being the actual mastermind. I wish I was a fly-on-the-wall for these proceedings, as I have never before known a killer.

While I realize that jail is a lousy way to spend years your life. It was a culmination of things happening this week that led me to the conclusion that: jail is a valid retirement plan.           Aside from the social stigma of being a criminal; Jail sounds relaxing. Free rent, no stressful career, no societal pressures to amass wealth. Plenty of time to Work-out, Guaranteed socks, Reliable meals. These are All things my ‘real-life’ as a struggling mid-late-20s office worker lacks. [Although poverty levels among under-35yr-old people might be an entirely different topic for some other time].

Life Before the Internet

Occasionally I see newspapers from 50+ years ago, and I imagine how differently people must’ve communicated back then.
A Life Before the invention of home computers.  No internet, no mobile phones. No microwaves, no CDs.
3 dozen eggs for $1. A 3 bedroom house for $12,500.
The advertisements always stick with me. Cars, home appliances, fashion. Things that emphasis the current times. We would call these things ‘Retro’ or ‘Vintage’, and enjoy the novelty fashion of it. Forgetting how Life really was before the Internet.
I wonder how people back then spent their time, and what occupational skills they had.       What did they learn in school? And how much of it is still relevant today.
In hindsight, the world looked so much smaller. This was before the Space-Race. Before Equal-Rights. Before the Vietnam War.      Sure there was TV and radio, but people back then didn’t have much reason to look farther than their own community. Everything was local [because of the limited global communication capabilities].
Communication had to be done face-to-face, and in doing so, it built strong bonds within the community. People were close with their neighbors, and weren’t as strongly influenced by new outlandish ideas. Does this mean that people more confidently identified with their position in life? Did they Know themselves better than we do today?

1959 news

advertisements from a 1959 newspaper

Television Programing & Racism

Children’s television programing in the 90s always had diverse casts. Socially and ethnically, there were always characters from different backgrounds.  Hey Arnold, The Magic School Bus, Recess, Power Rangers. I thought racism was something that happened before 1985. I thought it was all cleared up now.
Integration and affirmative action was before my time, so I thought the ideas of equality were well-established by now. I thought that people had evolved, and knew better than to be so closed minded.  We tell children that bullying is bad, and we should be nice to everyone. We have twice elected a colored president. We tell people that bigoted thinking has no place in modern society.
College is also a special kind of diversity bubble. A college campus prides itself on a diverse student body. I’m a modern American girl. A 90s kid. I live in one of the largest & richest cities in the USA, which is home to every possible flavor of subculture, ethnicity, and minority group.
But because of these sheltering circumstances, I was blissfully unaware of modern racism until I was an adult.
When I was 23, I took a vacation to Louisiana.
On a riverboat casino, wearing a blue mini skirt, I suddenly found myself gathering a lot of attention. I turn to ask my then boyfriend, ”Do I look alright? Seems like people are staring.”
He turns, and nonchalantly mentions that ‘they don’t see a lot of people my color.’
My mind was blown -wholly crap, this is a race-moment.  It didn’t seem like anything to him, but this was one of the more defining moments of my life.
I might have followed up with, “But they know we exist, right? They see us on TV and stuff… am I safe here?”
Nothing happened, of course. But I started seeing racial related issues more-and-more after that.

Screen-Addictions; A Distraction from Life

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who seemed like the most uninteresting person in the world? They don’t seem to have any hobbies, they’re unwilling to try new things, they’re not very fun, and they don’t seem to Do much.

The overall theme of this blog is how screen-addictions are ruining us. All of us. The population at-large is reclusive, with everyone focused on their person screens. Their personal inward experience is detaching them from the world around them. It’s A Distraction from Life, not an improvement.
When was the last time you had a real impromptu eye-contact no-distractions conversation with a stranger?

New technology distracts people from living their real life.
A portable screen Fills their time with entertainment, but doesn’t improve their personal life, it distracts them from it. The digital playground is too much fun for people to want to leave. The constant updates keep it fresh and interesting, and people want to be there all the time to see what else is happening.  No one wants to leave it. Ever. They eat and sleep with their screens close-by.
Years pass with this mentality, and now they’ve grown addicted.
They are Unable to Reflect on their own lives without digital affirmation. Post. Like. Share.

Get Prepared and Find Balance. I recently read a book that gave me some ideas about how to come back to real life. Most of them are talked about in previous posts over the last few months. They’re all summarized in my ‘living less and giving less’ post.

YouTube and the distribution, manipulation and consumption of data

The article ‘Collective Behavior in YouTube: A Case Study of ‘Bus Uncle’ Online Videos’, By Donna Chu, was about identifying and discussing the nature and pattern of the uses of media surrounding a notable YouTube spectacle in 2006 Hong Kong.  The study suggests that the collective behaviors in YouTube demonstrates a public-playground space within a cultural sphere. [Published in the Asian Journal of Communication Vol.19, No.3, Sept 2009, 337-353]
The ‘Bus Uncle’ viral video was an incident where a middle aged man had a fierce quarrel with a younger man on a bus. In the year that followed, the video had 3.9 million views and over a hundred mash-up videos made in response. Meaning that people online were viewing, commenting, and Reworking the incident. YouTube makes it happen with a ‘broadcast yourself’ approach, where everyone can upload videos about anything:  journalism, public education, advertising, political action, ect. The internet allows people to have more flexibility with the “distribution, manipulation and consumption of data”.
Tying back into the focus of the paper: utilizing the communication abilities of the internet for facilitating collective behavior public opinions. The summary of the study, found that YouTube is a cultural public sphere, where people can express emotions and sentiments around specific relatable incidents in their community.

too distracted by their digital-lives to thrive in their real-lives

Recently,  I had to read some college term papers about Social Medias Impact on various topics,  and One paper that really caught my eye was about Adolescents. It wasn’t just that the paper was was properly formatted (which is a bigger issue than previously anticipated), it’s that I’ve personally seen problems with new tech and young people.
I am of-the-opinion that young people are too distracted by their digital-lives to thrive in their real-lives.
Having constant access to an entertaining toy means that kids will never be forced to focus on things they don’t like. If they don’t like schoolbooks, then they won’t have to read it, they can simply pull out their phone and make a mental escape. For adults, this might be slightly different. But I think that the Younger the children are When they receive their First phone is directly correlated with how much they don’t pay attention in school. Which goes on to shape how little they pay attention for the rest of their lives.
Smartphones and Facebook weren’t invented until I was already IN college. But if I had a smart phone in middle or high school, I know for a fact I wouldn’t have paid attention a single day.
A while back, I overheard a work friend talk about their kids elementary school PTA meeting, where instead of talking about taking away their kids phones, the parents were arguing about banning a distracting child friendly App. I’m pretty sure  those parents are Failing to see the problem.  Kids today don’t have healthy boundaries for technology, and they may never learn to have them, as long as parents are equally phone-addicted.

measuring and interpreting campaign-related metrics

The 12th chapter of the Luttrell book; ‘Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect’, is about Measuring Social Media’s Impact and Value. “Traditionally, up to 5% of a typical public relations budget is allocated toward measuring and interpreting campaign-related metrics”(201).
There are some math equations  in the chapter for calculating social media expenditures. E = hard costs+ cost / time spend+ sunk cost.
The chapter goes on to mention some Measurement Standards (AMEC), and then dives into a list of things that a company should keep track of. Content and Sourcing,  Reach and Impressions, Engagement and Conversation, Opinion and Advocacy, Influence, Impact and Value.
The chapter mentions the RACE four-step PR model, and the similar ROPE model. As well as, the Schramm one-way linear model (source, encoder, signal, decoder, and destination).
The chapter ends with a few charts that show media metrics and framework. Program, Channel, Business; Paid, Owned, Earned. And how each responds to : Exposure, Engagement, Influence, Impact, Advocacy.
This was far from my favorite chapter, and it didn’t mention at all that there are already analytical programs to make it easier to keeping track of all these things.

living less and giving less

The 12th chapter of the Powers book, ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age’, is the start of section 3: In Search of Depth. This new section is all about the long term cost of connectivity, and how we need to choose to live in a more thoughtful way.
Find a healthy balance. “In letting screens run my life, I discount the rest of my existence, effectively renouncing my own wholeness. I live a lesser life and give less back to the world…. We’re living less and giving less, and the world is worse for it”(pg. 210).
The chapter reviews key points from earlier in the book.
Just like Plato’s story about Socrates taking a quiet walk outside of Athens to escape the busyness, We can take a walk without our phones to break free and  make a digital escape.
Seneca focused on one person/idea and tuned everything else out, and We can have a real conversation with someone around us. Not while navigating 10 windows, and watching a video, while writing an email, a real eye-contact no-distractions conversation.
Gutenberg made it possible for us to inwardly reflect with books, but our new tech devices are trying to make reading an outward experience, with connected tablets and e-readers.
With Shakespeare (Hamlet’s handheld) we re-learned about the importance of paper and tangible toys.
Ben Franklin gave us  goals for ‘moral perfection’ through  behavioral rituals.
Thoreau told us to create an area of inner simplicity and peace away from the  intensity of connectedness.
“McLuhan said that, even in this busy electronic world, each of us can regulate the quality of our experience” (219).
This chapter was actually a beautiful summary of half the book.