Week 11.

November 7, 2011

1.  I think that people need to be aware that once you put your pictures on the internet, they can be used totally out of context and for purposes you never imagined. For example–and this is mild–a couple years ago, I took a picture of my baby second cousin, and from the angle (and she was a newborn) she had the most insane crazy eyes you’ve ever seen. Bulging out of her face. Adorable and hilarious. Almost a year later, a friend I had not seen for months posted the same picture on my wall (on Facebook) and he had added lasers to the picture in photoshop, so it looked like the baby was shooting lasers out of her eyes like superman or something. Though I find the hole incident quite entertaining, I hesitate to show the laser-eye-baby picture to her mother, because I’m not sure she would approve. Though the consequences were not really bad, it shows that a picture of a child posted now can be taken out of context even years from now, and the person who put it on the internet will likely never know that the image was put in a different context.

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2.  I think one of the problems of sexuality as represented on the internet is that it is not necessarily a “real” situation. Regardless of pornography, sexualized images are often in advertising on all kinds of websites, of celebrities or unknowns, and they are usually shown in very unrealistic ways. Sometimes, when I see these kinds of images while online (even on the news pages!) I feel as if someone else’s fantasy has intruded in my personal space, unsolicited, on my screen. Sexualized images are all over the internet, which is a public space. I have always understood sex to be an intimate experience, yet having all this imagery emerge on people’s facebook pictures or in the ads next to them, makes me wonder if anyone else feels the way that I do. Should sex appeal be the default way to sell? Anyways, I believe that if both those disseminating the sexualized images and the viewers are not thinking critically, false expectations of sexuality can become internalized in viewer’s personal reality.

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3.  http://www.familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html

 After looking through this website a bit, I have come up with a few responses. First, the data presented is not complete: there should be adequate definitions of what is meant by terms like “pornography” and “adult,” so that it is clear what the data is measuring. Also, at the bottom the site states that the sources are credible “Statistics are compiled from the credible sources mentioned. In reality, statistics are hard to ascertain and may be estimated by local and regional worldwide sources.” Though the sources may be “credible” one can not simply cut and paste graphs without providing an adequate explanation as to the context of the data collection and an interpretation of the data–but this site does just that. There are no links anywhere near the graphs to the original studies; and there is not even a citation on any particular graph or table. Credibility can be claimed by anyone, but sources MUST be directly cited. Also, the overload of numbers and graphs seems to be to intentionally overwhelm the viewer, without any interest in the actual consequences of pornography. This site serves little to provide concrete knowledge about pornography, and it seems the intention is only to incite hysteria regarding the “takeover” of pornography on the internet all over the world.

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4.  Some of people’s fears about teenagers and the internet are based on only a few extreme cases, such as cyber-bullying that caused a teen suicide. These instances are great news stories, but they do not necessarily speak for the uses of the internet by the whole population. The internet can be used as an open arena for aggression or for positive interaction–and so it is used for both. The distance caused by virtual interactions can be a good way for someone who is regularly shy to speak their mind; however they may not have anything nice to say. One of the biggest worries, at least to me, is that teens who put explicit images of themselves on the internet are setting themselves up for scandal in the future. When my mom was asked to hire a new employee, the first thing she did was check out what was public on their Facebook, and I believe this is becoming a much more common practice. You can only control your virtual audience so much, if at all.

I did not post pictures on the internet as a teenager. I had many many digital pictures, but I was never interested in the Myspace craze. I only got into Facebook because my sister moved far away, and then I moved away from home, so it was an easier way to keep in touch with many people. Now I post lots of pictures on Facebook and my blog(s), but I am very careful in what I choose to post, and try to be respectful of others who are in my pictures to only post what they would also deem appropriate. Just because you can post pictures of every aspect of your life and body, doesn’t mean you should.

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5.  Technology has revealed that people who choose to hurt others will use whatever mode they have access to to do so. People talk crap about each other via internet chatting and messaging, send pictures of other people without permission, and even purposely misquote people. In terms of the hurtful use of photographs, technology does open the door for immediate dissemination to thousands, as opposed to whoever would see an image in its physical print form. In that sense, technologies of the internet and cell phones have amplified the effects of image use. However, the positive use of images through these same means has also been amplified, so it is hard to say, definitively, which side of the ethical line technology stands.

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6.  I use picture messaging for communicating with my family and friends who live far away. I take pictures of things I find interesting or funny, or relate to some inside joke, etc. I take and send picture messaging with my phone several times a week (now that I’m using it for my final project), but normally I use it once a week or so.

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