Doggy Digitalization

I remember the days when dogs were just dogs. Cute little animals that prance about filled with energy and brighten everyone’s day that spots them. When you wanted to see them you had to go outside to your backyard or the local park. But, now, like with everything, you no longer need to go outside to see these pups! There is a plethora of ways to see these dogs from dog spotting facebook page to Instagram pages filled with cute pups.

Dog Spotting Facebook Group

This is a glorious page filled with pictures of dogs all over the world! Some are sitting on the T, some are chilling in the common, and some are running through the beaches of the Caribbean. The fun of this page is one day if you run into one of these cute pups it’s kinda like you’ve run into a celebrity! What makes this page even more interesting, is that there’s a whole competitive edge behind it. There’s a whole list of rules that can be found on the page and yes people do take it seriously. They range from not posting a dog you know to no service dogs allowed. People get so serious that they even have a page to contest any alleged “bans” against you. This just goes to show the passion that people have for dogs.

Wag

Have you ever wondered how someone gets the wonderful gig of a dog walker? Did they just know the right people? Have the right doggy connections? No need to fret any longer because you don’t need an in anymore! You can become the dog walker you have always been meant to be by just signing up through wag! Of course you’ll have to pass a background check and have your info in the system, but I can’t imagine anything more worth it than quality time with a pup.

Insta Dogs

No longer is Instagram just for selfies taken in perfect lighting. It also can act as the perfect portal to dogs all over the world! No longer are you limited to seeing dogs in your neighborhood, by tapping a few buttons you can have access to dogs playing the waters of Cabo or walking the streets of London. Some of the cutest ones can be found on the pages puppiesforall or if you want to follow one specific dog I suggest Marine the dog! Screen Shot 2017-04-17 at 10.32.33 AMShe is so precious with her blonde locks and her post will really pull your heartstrings. One that really got to me was when Trump passed the Muslim ban and Marine was out with the protestors at the airport! Could you ask for more of a touching photo?

Rover

This is a lot like Wag, but instead of just walking the dogs you would get to take care of them! It’s a dog sitting website that lets you have access to tons of dogs in need of some love! This is wonderful if you are missing your little dog at home and just need some puppy love in your life again! Might have to commute a bit, but so worth it!

Dog internet personalities

Weratedogs twitter is a gem! You can’t but be happy when scrolling through their feed! They pair little funny blips about the dog pictured and give every dog a rating on a 1-10 scale, but of course they always rate above a 10 because every dog in the world is automatically a 10! One of the recent post they had was of a tiny little pug sticking its tongue out and said, “This is Kyle. He made a joke about your shoes, then stuck his tongue out at you. Uncalled for. Step the h*ck up Kyle. 11/10 would forgive” Come on, can you get better than that?

 

Sure, digitalization can be seen as this horrible monster that is taking over everything. But, in terms of dogs it seems to be only making things better! You know have access to dogs all over the world and little communities, like insta dogs and dog spotting, have popped up all over. I’m just grateful to know I am no longer alone in my obsession with dogs, I only have to click my phone open to find the other millions just like me.

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Life After Vine

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By now, you’ve probably heard the news. On October 27, Vine announced that they would soon be discontinuing their mobile app. Twitter, Vine’s current owner, has evidently decided that the app is no longer economically viable. For the social-media-savvy, this announcement was shocking. Though most people were not as active on Vine as they may have been on sites like Instagram or Facebook, Vine has remained a staple in the online world for years. Since 2013, users have been using the Vine application to make and share content. Many videos posted on Vine have later become viral, leading to them being shared across multiple platforms. How many “memes” can you recall that trace their origins to a Vine?

Continue reading “Life After Vine”

Social Media’s Role in Times of Turmoil

When it comes to terrorism, social media seems to be a double edged sword. In the recent attacks on Paris and Brussels, social media has played a huge role in building momentum for the terrorist groups before the attacks and in helping victims recover from them.

There are many ways in which social media helps in the face of a terror attack by allowing people to reach out in a way they previously couldn’t. One great advancement was how victims or people in the area were able to use a Safety Check feature on Facebook in order to show their family and loved ones that they were safe. Another benefit of social media is that people can show their support for those across the world through social media campaigns, such as after the Paris and Brussels attacks when people could post using hashtags like #JeSuisBruxelles. Hashtags also played a role in helping refugees of these attacks find shelter such as #PorteOuverte (“open door”), #ikwilhelpen (“I want to help”) and #BrusselsWelcome. Social media also has the ability to circulate awareness and opportunities to donate to relief funds such as a GoFundMe campaign that was started for the victims in Brussels.

However, just as social media can inspire people to support terror victims it can also inspire people to join terrorist causes. Terrorist groups are able to create propaganda that calls people to action using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Before the attack in Paris, ISIS released several videos encouraging young Parisians to join their terrorist group. Even before these recent attacks in Europe, ISIS began using social media to create fear and raise support, such as on August 19, 2014, when they uploaded a video onto YouTube of one of their members beheading an American journalist named James Foley. According to CNN, the video also shows him reading a message that “his ‘real killer’ is America” before the murder. Using these platforms, terrorists are able to raise fear and bring others into their cause.

This calls into question what tech companies can do to fix this situation and if they should. Many companies including Google, which owns YouTube, have algorithms that allow them to sift through content to prevent the posting of things like copyrighted material or child pornography that might be applicable to a search for terrorist propaganda. So why don’t they?

It turns out to be much more complicated than that. Some believe that it is worth this material being on the internet if it can be used to help government officials find information about the terrorists based on user profiles or information embedded in the content. However, according to an article on Forbes, it is not worth the risk of escalating recruitment because we must “consider that jihadis who post this content are fully aware that it is being monitored by Western security agencies” and thus would be careful not to reveal any useful information.

Others believe that allowing the government to search through social media would be an invasion of privacy. Emma Llansó, director of the Free Expression Project at the Center of Democracy and Technology, said in a Morning Consult article that “If the government were to patrol social media websites and decide what is or isn’t suspicious, that could veer into censorship.” She seems to think a better solution would be “if private companies report content they find suspicious to the government; it’s less like censorship and more like a business simply overseeing its customer service.”

There’s no denying social media has a lot of influence. “Going viral” seems to be the only way to make history these days. Social media can create a sense of community by raising awareness about issues and inspiring people to help. On the other hand, this power to spread a message can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Social media is a powerful weapon and there is a lot of controversy about how to control it. And ultimately it is up to us to make sure it is used for good.

So Someone You Know Has Published an Article for “Thought Catalog”

Or Her Campus. Or The Odyssey Online. Or Total Sorority Move. Or any other “platisher” (a portmanteau of platform and publisher) website that produces content aimed at a millennial women, with the intent of getting as many clicks as possible.

It happens to all of us who have Facebook accounts. You’re scrolling down your Feed, past the new photo albums, shared videos and there it is: your friend/classmate/acquaintance proudly boasting about the personal essay they wrote for a content website.

The picture is most likely tinted blue, with a stock footage model not looking at the camera. The headline kills you. It’s another one of those “open letters” or an article about why they “totally should” date some kind of girl. Either way, the amount of times you’ve seen these click-bait headlines is excruciatingly often.

And now, your friend has succumbed to the click-bait webdemic.

So what do you do?

Let’s just say I’ve encountered these enough to come up with a step-by-step guide as to how to react to these types of situations. In the form of a listicle.

Step 1. Open it. You must.

Step 2. Immediately search the post for any clues about you.

(It’s better to call them out if they have listed you directly in the article. It’s more relevant.)

Step 3. Rate their use of GIFS. Because why not?

Step 4. What are they bragging about? According to Gawker, there are 5 types of Thought Catalog posts, but I would extend this to any platlisher. Deciphering what kind of post it is will help you if you decide if you should confront them about the issue.

Step 5. If it is someone you truly care about, contact them privately as to why they would publicly embarrass themselves like this.

Step 6. Sit back and ponder why it is mainly women who fall victim to the pseudo-personal-essay trap. Wonder if this really is the best way for women to start out in the online writing game and if it is, do they go anywhere after this? Will any news organization  really want to look at your writing if all you have are articles bragging about how you’re a “laid back kind of girl” through J.Law reaction gifs? (I thought I was being “relatable” with this sentence, but apparently there is a whole section of literature of this sort.)

I realize this post is basically a prolonged sub-tweet. But the amount of times I’ve been able to decode someone’s personal life based on what I know from them and what they write in these articles is too much for me to be comfortable with as a 20-year-old. Think about it for a second: If the girl who’s been dating the same guy since high school posts an article with the headline “15 Things You’ll Do When You Think About Your High School Boyfriend,” do we really have to guess who it’s about? Of course it’s about Jonathon, the guy she’s been dating since the homecoming dance freshman year. Why would someone do that, especially when you consider the types of people that are seeing these posts? Her aunt and favorite English teacher are probably friends with her on Facebook and can totally comment on it.

As for  the content of these articles? They aren’t well-written. It would be a stretch to even call them articles; they are 21st century diary entries for an audience of millions. Most of the time, these posts are written with the underlying message of “Look! I’ve done this!” disguised with the cover of “advice.” The hangover posts, dating posts and the sex posts all say one thing: I have done this and I want to tell everyone I’ve done this, but it would be weird and socially unacceptable if I just bragged about it, so I wrote about it for a website.

Self-awareness is the number one thing many of these young writers lack. These “platlishers” aim their content primarily at college-aged women; thus, they are written by primarily college-aged women. As an aspiring writer, I know how difficult it is to get published. But the web is a world wide place; there are so many sites you can write for if you want to get published. Articles like these are property of the sites they are posted on, and are a part of their Internet footprint…forever.

Not every article can be Pulitzer-prize winning commentary, nor should it. “Fluff pieces” have always held a place in journalism, from Dear Abby letters to celebrity interviews, they are fun to read and break up the heavy news the world usually delivers. What this style of writing means for our generation is serious. The tone of these posts are monotonous, just like the algorithm generated headlines that accompany them. What does this mean for young writers looking to find their voice?

To be frank, I don’t even know the answer. But I know it won’t be found in a listicle.

Save Social Networks From Valentine’s Day Woes

Next Valentine's Day, delete those lame tweets about your single life and instead Beyonce booty-pop your way to your next tryst
Next Valentine’s Day, delete those lame tweets about your single life and instead Beyonce booty-pop your way to your next tryst

As a student that’s been single many Valentine’s Days, there are minor irritations that one expects to encounter and ignore. I can deal with liking a smiling couple picture that close friends post on Instagram before scrolling past it. The only thing passing a UPS deliveryman unload a truck full of flower deliveries inhibits is the walk to my 10 a.m. class in the Walker Building. I’m fine with awkwardly attempting to check my e-mail in an elevator with no cell service as an anonymous couple engages in flirty PDA. I’m even happy to help my friends plan gifts and surprises for their significant others, and often have.

I say all of this to make the following clear: the gushy, public, mass-market appeal of Valentine’s Day is not lost on me. If I had a boyfriend that cared enough to gift me with carefully packaged oatmeal raisin cookies and a subscription to The Economist, I’d love it. If it was a Nora Ephron-esque romance of storybook perfection where he’d take me for Italian food and treat me to a showing of Zero Dark Thirty, I’d probably Instagram it. My problem lies not with the siphoned-off couples determined to make their love as public as possible, nor is it a bitter manifesto defaming the boyfriend I don’t have. I dread Valentine’s Day because of the couples, I dread it because of the singletons.

As shocking as this news may come to the guilty parties I interact with on social media, February is not the month for me to hear about your ex-boyfriend. As I’ve successfully made it through the other 364 days of the year without a collection of subtweets about the person that broke your heart, Valentine’s Day is not the time to make awkwardly public confrontations that no third party wants to be involved in. And for those that feel perpetually single, February 14th is not the day to pen lamentations about the “single lyfe”. Honestly, I’d rather a tried-and-true lame attempt at humor with picture of Ryan Gosling and a caption recounting your plans to have him father your bespectacled, coffee-addicted, pseudo-hipster progeny.

I was single this Valentine’s Day because I often hold others to the unfairly high standards that I hold myself to. Also I’m often unintentionally sassy and some people find my brazen defense of my opinions off-putting. I also have this weird complex where I find people without ambition and a pair of dark colored dress shoes immoral. These issues, along with a plethora of others, are mine and I’m working on them. I’m not tweeting about them, tumbling them, tweeting them, or listing them at the very top of your Facebook newsfeed. Not only is it useless, as a person that guards her personal life with fierce privacy, I find the public declarations of private matters tasteless and unnecessary.

For next year’s singletons, how about this: leave Valentine’s Day to the couples. Instead of taking it to the social networking behemoths, go out with your girls and booty-pop your way to your next carefree tryst or get wine-drunk while watching Sex and the City. Whatever happens as you’re staying away from composing that tweet, this isn’t the night to send a text message-attempt to rekindle that one toxic relationship that has remained a wound, ready to fester in a fit of loneliness. Take to heart the most honest piece of relationship advice from the best book you’ve never read, He’s Just Not That Into You: “Don’t spend your time on and give your heart to any guy who makes you wonder about anything related to his feelings for you.” For the casualness of college relationships, that’s probably a high standard, but one definitely worth keeping in mind.